It usually starts with a seemingly harmless cough. A mild limp: But druse in horses can also quickly become dangerous. We explain why this is so, how to correctly assign the first symptoms, how to effectively support healing, and when to call in the veterinarian. Read more here!
Basic knowledge: What is druse in horses?
Druse is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus equi. This causes the respiratory tract (especially the areas of the throat, larynx and pharynx) to become severely inflamed in the horse's body. As a rule, the lymph nodes swell up considerably. Purulent inflammations are to be recognized. At the same time the horses suffer from severe pain when breathing up to respiratory distress.
From this alone, you can probably tell that druse in horses is not a cough that increases easily. On the contrary, if you recognize symptoms that fit the disease, you should contact the veterinarian as soon as possible. Because if the treatment is omitted, this can have serious consequences. The purulent inflammation then spreads to the head and can cause abscesses. Thus, the body functions are restricted, vital organs are attacked and in the worst case the disease is fatal.
This is exactly why it is important that druse is detected quickly. Because then a cure is very likely. We will tell you in a moment how to do this and when you should contact the veterinarian. But beforehand, especially horses that have a weak immune system (z.B. Foals or seniors), are susceptible to the disease. So it is best to take a closer look here.
Causes: When does druse occur?
As described above, the causative agent of druse is the bacterium Streptococcus equi. In most cases, this is passed from one animal to another via droplet infection. So if it coughs, another horse picks up the pathogen and gets sick with druse. The first symptoms usually appear after 3 to 14 days.
This horse still has a slight nasal discharge.
While the disease spreads relatively quickly when it enters a barn, it has to get that far first. Already here you can do something to prevent the spread of the disease. Here we have summarized possible sources of infection and how you can take action against them:
Source of infectionPreventive measures
Water and feedRegularly renew, if the bacterium is suspected have it examined BridleRegularly clean BeddingRegularly muck out and also completely change Import z.B. in the horse trailerClean horse trailer resp. first put isolated flies/mosquitoesWork with fly spray Hands and clothing of humansWhen coming into contact with an infected horse, keep your distance from the rest of the herd, disinfect your hands and wash out your clothing well Other animals z.B. Avoid dog or cat contact with infected horses Existing contact, best to wash out coat and keep animal away from rest of herd
Attention! The pathogen is relatively resistant. That is, it survives up to 5 days even on surfaces such as those described above. If a horse has been diagnosed with druse in a stable, it must be disinfected. Thoroughly clean water troughs, accessories, and anything else that may have come in contact with the diseased animal to reduce the risk of spreading.
Symptoms: Does my horse have druse?
In the early stages, druse is often not yet evident in horses. It usually starts with a cough. A slight nasal discharge. A lack of appetite or general listlessness can also be signs. In addition, it is often the case that the body temperature is elevated. So, all in all, the animal seems rather dull, weak and sweats excessively.
While the symptoms described are not yet druse specific, they should still contact the veterinarian at best now. Bronchitis or simply a cough can also be a cause. These diseases should be treated equally. In some cases the right cough herbs for horses help, in others a more intensive treatment is necessary. The following symptoms, however, can specifically indicate druse:
– Swollen lymph nodes (v.a. on the throat and pharynx) – palpable on the horse's lower jaw – boils (v.a. in the area of the lymph nodes) – Greenish to yellow nasal discharge – Lowered, stretched neck
Druse in horses, green nasal discharge
If you notice these symptoms, you should contact the veterinarian immediately. Because this is already an advanced course of druse in the horse. Isolate the affected animal to reduce the risk of infection.
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Treatment: What to do in case of druse in horses?
Druse in horses should definitely be treated by a veterinarian. He or she will then work out a plan with you as to how to proceed. While you are still waiting for the results of the laboratory test, however, you should isolate the horse with suspected druse. Once confirmed, a sophisticated quarantine plan is the key to limiting its spread.
Quarantine for druse: How to isolate horses?
In most cases, druse is transmitted from one horse to another by droplet infection, as described above. To prevent this, you should isolate the affected animal immediately. Also, keep a watchful eye on the rest of the herd so that you can act immediately at the first signs. In the barn, you should now best set up three areas:
Sick horses- isolation for 4 to 8 weeks (i.d.R. one week after the horse is symptom-free or. Best disinfectant. Keep disposable gloves on hand (if necessary. including protective clothing) Suspected cases (horses that have had contact with diseased animals)- Observation for ca. 2 weeks (regular lab tests) – Regularly check for symptoms and take a fever – As soon as the first signs are visible, move the horse to the area for sick horses – It is best to take similar precautions as for sick horses (increased hygiene measures and restricted access) Healthy horses- Strictly separate from the other areas (ideally in a separate building) – Animals should have no contact with suspected and sick horses
Follow these isolation rules as strictly as possible to prevent the spread of druse to horses in the barn. This also means that all possible risks of infection are minimized. Thus you should use best separate feed buckets, water troughs and even care personnel.
Druse sick horse stands isolated.
Medication: How to treat druse in horses?
In fact, most veterinarians do not recommend antibiotics for druse. Because while the medication may well help if the druse is detected early enough, its use does not build up immunity in the body. If boils are already visible or the lymph nodes are already swollen, the antibiotic will no longer be effective anyway.
You should also avoid fever-reducing drugs if possible. Because it is the heat in the body that causes the bacteria to die. If this remains absent, a so-called cold druse can develop. This lasts much longer and also the risk of infection remains over a longer period of time.
Support: What helps horses with druse?
Sick horses should now be specifically supported. The focus here is on pain relief. As a rule, the veterinarian will prescribe your animal painkillers for this purpose. In addition, you can accelerate the swelling of the lymph nodes with various home remedies. You can apply, for example, traction ointments to the swollen areas. These tough creams additionally support the healing of the pus abscesses and the swelling of the lymph nodes.
Checking the lymph nodes in horses
Particularly warming druse wraps, z.B. with a hot water bottle or a grain pillow (be careful not to get it too hot)!), have an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect and promote blood circulation. However, you can also make the compresses with mashed potatoes. Simply warm this up, put it in a bag and then gently attach it to the horse's neck. The viscous mush clings well to the affected areas and can thus help specifically.
If the abscesses are then ready to burst open, you should clean the wounds thoroughly. It is best to work with a disinfectant solution to keep the open areas really sterile. This is the only way to effectively prevent a renewed swelling. If you do not have the confidence to do this yourself, it is best to contact your veterinarian.
Feeding: What can a druse horse eat??
Due to the swelling of the lymph nodes, many horses with druse not only have difficulty breathing, but also swallowing. In addition, the general listlessness often also affects the appetite. The horses eat little during the illness. Therefore, it is best to make the intake of food as easy as possible for your animal. Meaning:
– Roughage: Preferably soaked (e.g. in water).B. Beet pulp and/or alfalfa), later also hay cobs – Concentrated feed: Preferably soft, slightly warm mash – Supplementary feed: Varieties to strengthen the immune system, with high mineral and vitamin content are recommended
Prevention: what to do to avoid druse in horses?
Druse in horses is not a disease to be trifled with. Accordingly, quite a few pet owners wonder what they can do to prevent it from breaking out in the first place. In conclusion, we would like to give you a few tips on the subject of prevention.
Vaccination: Can the horse be vaccinated??
The question about vaccination is a tricky one. Because basically it behaves with the Druse with the horse similarly as with the flu with humans. There are countless strains and variations of the disease – so depending on the region, the pathogen may differ. The bacterium also continues to develop. Thus, a vaccination protection is never 100% given.
However, the vaccination is often used when druse has already broken out in a stable. So the spread to healthy horses can be reduced. The severity of the course of the disease is usually limited. Such a vaccination should be repeated once in a period of about four weeks. In order to obtain permanent protection, the vaccination must be repeated every six months.
Horse receives a vaccination against druse
There are also different opinions as to whether a horse builds up immunity after it has contracted druse. This also depends on the pathogen – if a mutation enters the stable, no horse is protected. However, it may well be that the course is significantly less serious in this case as well.
Further measures: What else can you do against druse?
In general, the question of whether a horse is infected with druse is strongly dependent on its immune system. If this is strong and well established or if the first defense bodies are already present, the risk is relatively low. If, on the other hand, it is already weakened, as in foals or older horses, but also during the change of coat, an infection is more likely to occur. So to support it, you can work with special supplementary feeds for the immune system. Such you order with us in the on-line Shop!
In addition, you can limit the spread of druse through a suitable ventilation concept. Because the stable climate in particular – on which we have already written a separate article – has a great influence on how well bacteria can survive and spread. If a new horse comes into the stable, it should also first be isolated for three weeks. If it carries the Druse pathogen, you can prevent an infection in such a way.
By the way: Druse in horses is not notifiable. This means for you that also no official measures are to be expected. However, you should of course still act accordingly, since Streptococcus equi is a highly contagious pathogen.