February 1, 2016 8:58 pm
Updated: February 1, 2016 9:18 pm

Horse’s fatal infection spurs southern Alberta stable quarantine

WATCH ABOVE: A horse in southern Alberta has died from Strangles, a respiratory infection that in rare cases, can be deadly. Quinn Campbell reports.


CARDSTON, Alta. -Ashley Parker is still processing the sudden death of her horse Drop Dead Fred, also knows as Cory.

On Jan. 16, she said he started to act out of the ordinary.

“I went to put his halter on and he kind of stumbled and he went down, ” Parker said. “I remember… just saying ‘This is not good.'”

The 15-year-old horse died of an equine infection.

“We just sat with him and said ‘Thanks for everything bud…I guess it’s your time to go,'” said Parker.

Within 36 hours of showing symptoms, Cory was dead. A veterinarian determined the cause was Strangles, a bacterial disease that usually targets horses under five-years-old.

Dr. Todd Griffiths of the Foothills Veterinary Clinic said there are some symptoms of Strangles that horse owners should watch for.

“Most commonly, you’ll see a fever and then often you’ll see discharge from the nose and then swelling of the lymph nodes; usually under the throat but it can be on the sides and up around the eyes as well,” he said.

Griffiths said Cory had a less common strain of the bacterial infection.

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“The terms that most people know are Bastard Strangles, which instead of having an abscess under the jaw, they can have abscesses anywhere through the body. They can go into the heart, or the lungs, or the liver, in the abdomen and then, in very rare cases, it can also go in the brain.”

Parker keeps her horses at the Southern Alberta Equine Centre in Cardston, where she is also a manager.

Cory’s symptoms started to pop up in other horses, prompting the board to take action by cancelling lessons and closing the arena.

“We had a barn of probably about six horses and they were also tested by Griffiths and we felt it best to quarantine those horses until they have a 21-day clean bill of health,” the centre’s board president, Austin Nunn said.

Griffiths said he only knows of the cases at the riding centre but encourages all horse owners to use preventative measures like vaccinating and good sanitation. He also advises against sharing brushes, tack or feed, and water pails with other horses.

Parker said she is grateful the board has taken the steps they have to prevent the illness from spreading.

“It costs money to close a facility like this and they’ve totally put the health and welfare of the animals first.”

Parker has created a GoFundMe page to help the board pay for a new door at the facility that will keep horses in the barn and visitors separate.


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