Horse owners in the Windsor area are coping with a possible outbreak of strangles, the horse equivalent of strep throat. 

Tests by the Avon Animal Hospital in Windsor have confirmed the bacterial infection on one farm.

Strangles is highly contagious and can make horses, especially young horses, very sick.

It is suspected that as many as 11 horses on two other farms are also infected.

Lindsay Bradshaw has about 20 horses on her Long Lane Farm in Mount Uniacke. 

When she first heard about the outbreak two weeks ago she immediately took precautions.

“We've put a temporary quarantine on our barn so that means horses aren't coming and going,” she said.

She says she also put a quarantine on people coming and going.

Veterinarian Dr. Paul Johnston says the illness is spread from horse to horse, or on the clothing and hands of people who've come in contact with the bacteria.

“I'm not the type of person that routinely recommended vaccines,” he said. “But now I think it's called for.”

He says it takes 70 to 80 per cent of the horse population to be vaccinated to stop the spread of the disease. 

Strangles is not unheard of in the Maritimes, but this is the biggest suspected outbreak in a decade. 

Corrections

  • In an earlier version of this story, it was incorrectly reported that strangles is a virus. Strangles is a bacterial infection.
    Apr 18, 2014 10:07 AM AT