Joint Statement Salt River Horse - Strangles

Release Date: Sep 18, 2019

On 9/18/19, the Arizona Department of Agriculture received the results of a swab taken from a Salt River horse that has tested positive for Strangles. 

A number of Salt River horses are showing signs of abscesses that are consistent with Strangles.  It is important to remind the public that if you are going to ride domestic horses in the area inhabited by the Salt River horses, please avoid contact with the horses or obvious bedding areas.  It is also important to make sure your horses are current on their vaccinations and if they show any unusual clinical signs after being exposed to any horse, wild or domestic, please consult your veterinarian. 

Strangles is a bacterial disease of horses and not contagious to humans, however, if people are in contact with the Salt River horses and their clothing or person becomes contaminated with nasal discharge or pus from an infected horse, the bacterium can be physically transferred to other horses through handling.  Young naive horses and aged horses are most commonly affected by the disease.  Many horses that recover will subsequently have immunity from the disease for a number of years. 

Below are links to a couple of articles about Understanding Equine Strangles and Strangles Myths Debunked if you are interested in learning more about the disease. 

Please practice appropriate caution if you plan on riding your domestic horse at the Lower Salt River.