Horse owners on alert after disease outbreak

With Megan Bryant competing at top level, the health of her horses is paramount and all are vaccinated against Strangles.
With Megan Bryant competing at top level, the health of her horses is paramount and all are vaccinated against Strangles.

An outbreak of the contagious disease 'Strangles' has affected horses throughout areas of NSW and the ACT recently.

Strangles is a contagious bacterial disease in horses that affects the upper respiratory system and lymph nodes of the head, making eating and drinking very painful.

The Nationals Member for Burrinjuck and Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson is urging local horse owners to ensure their horses' immunisations are up to date.

"Strangles can be distressing for the animal and particularly young horse owners so making sure your vaccinations are up-to-date is a simple measure that can prevent or lessen the impact of this disease," she said.

Veterinary Nurse Danielle Tysoe from Cowra Veterinary Centre said while there haven't been any reported cases in the Cowra region as of yet she would encourage all horse owners, particularly those with competition horses and broodmares to vaccinate against the disease.

"People in this area are generally very good at vaccinating, particularly those with competition horses who have interaction with other horses at shows and camp drafts," she said.

"Competition horses can be vaccinated against strangles every six months and breeding mares should also be done every six months."

Ms Tysoe said young horses can be vaccinated against Strangles from three months of age with three doses, two weeks apart.

Jenny Bryant, mother of local dressage and eventing competitor Megan Bryant said a competition in Canberra was recently cancelled due to concern over the outbreak.

With Megan competing at top level, Mrs Bryant said the health of their horses is paramount.

"They're all vaccinated against strangles as foals," she said.

"With the amount of contact they have with each other, you just can't not vaccinate."

Symptoms of Strangles include a fever, swollen lymph nodes in the head and throat area, a watery nasal discharge and in some cases is accompanied by a cough.

Strangles is a notifiable disease and any cases or suspected cases must be reported to a vet or the Department of Primary Industries.