Horse disease outbreak biggest in decades

Published: Mar. 15, 2017 at 11:44 PM MDT
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A contagious disease is causing major concerns for horse owners in the Grand Valley.

Owners are on high alert of a serious outbreak of what's called equine Strangles disease.

It’s one of the biggest outbreaks vets and owners have seen in a couple decades.

Vets said it’s like the flu or strep throat for horses, and it spreads very quickly from horse to horse. People who care for animals can also spread the infection on their shoes and tools.

“Everyone is very concerned, about what's going on,” said Shane Prentice. “It has the potential to spread across the valley, if we aren't on top of it.”

“This is by far the most I've ever seen in the valley... it's a significant number of cases, and it's something people should be aware of,” said Dr. Dominic Carrica, owner of Amigo Animal Clinic.

Once horses are diagnosed, they require mandatory quarantine, because it’s such a contagious disease.

“Infected horses develop fevers, they stop eating, they may develop a cough, a snotty nose, and large abscess underneath the nose by the jaw, in the throat area,” said Dr. Carrica.

The manager at Reimer’s Rainbow Ranch said they've had about a dozen cases and are taking proper precautions.

“We started monitoring all the horses because of contagious manner. We take their temperatures’ twice a day, on all horses. We take special care, to disinfect everything in this barn,” said Prentice.

Fearing the spread could go valley wide, horses at the ranch will not be allowed to do much until they are cleared with a vet.

“It could ruin our summer, for horse people anyway,” said Prentice. “We are going to miss shows, but that is secondary to the health of the animal.”

Vets recommend watching animals’ behavior and if there is a noticeable changes to contact a vet right away to determine what are the best treatment options for the specific case.

Vets said even the general public can pick up a few tips to learn how to keep all pets healthy.

There is more information about the disease on Amigo Animal Clinic's website. Just click on the link on the right side of this screen.