The horse section of the Halifax Agricultural show in the UK was cancelled Saturday due the contagious equine disease, strangles, show officials report.


“We are sorry to announce the cancellation of the horse sections at the 2015 Show on the 8 August.

“Cases of Equine Strangles have been notified in the area. The disease is readily transmitted and in the worst cases can endanger the life of any infected horses. The Management Committee has therefore decided, with regret, to cancel all light horse, heavy horse and donkey events. None of the other small animal or livestock classes are affected by this decision and the rest of the Show will continue as planned.

“We fully expect the horse and donkey classes will return in 2016.”

Strangles poses no risk to humans, but is highly contagious and common among horses.  Strangles is caused by infection with Streptococcus equi subspecies equi.  Symptoms include fever, diminished appetite, nasal discharge (that begins clear and turns purulent) and enlarged submandibular lymph nodes that can become abscessed.  It is in the obstructed breathing caused by enlarged lymph nodes and in rare cases death by suffocation that the disease received its name.  In most cases, infection with S. equi self-resolves, but this disease has a death rate of about ten percent, usually from complications involving spread beyond the head and neck, including pneumonia.

Transmission occurs by direct contact between animals and via fomites or water sources.  Treatment can include chemotherapy with antibiotics if initiated in the very early stage of the disease or as post-exposure prophylaxis; otherwise, initiation of antibiotic treatment is not recommended due to evidence that it can prolong infection or inhibit formation of post-infection immunity.  As about twenty percent of cases become asymptomatic nasal carriers, vaccination is the considered the best method of control.

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