Can Humans Get Strangles From Horses?

Last Updated on July 8, 2022

If you’ve got an outbreak of strangles in your area, you might be wondering can humans get strangles from horses? Or is this disease just associated with horses? Let’s find out!

Can Humans Get Strangles From Horses?

Strangles is a widespread and highly transmissible disease of horses, caused by the bacteria Streptococcus equi subspecies equi. This disease causes large abscesses of the lymph nodes of the throat, causing a characteristic greeny-yellow nasal discharge and persistent fever. In many cases, these symptoms resolve with supportive therapy and rest, although in some cases the abscessation spreads to the internal organs and can result in severe illness and death.

Although most horses with strangles make a full recovery, this disease is very problematic as it spreads incredibly easily. The purulent discharge from the throat abscesses is very infectious, and it can be spread easily by nose-to-nose contact between horses. Strangles can also be transmitted when nasal discharge contaminates surfaces such as fence posts and human clothing, which can then infect healthy horses when they touch these objects.

But can humans get strangles from horses, or is this highly contagious disease limited to just equines? In some very rare cases, the bacteria that causes strangles in horses has also infected humans. However, this is very unlikely to happen, but good hygiene standards when caring for a horse with strangles should always be maintained.

This not only minimizes the risk of transmission of strangles between horses and humans, but also helps to slow the spread of this disease through the equine population.

When a case of strangles is suspected, the horse should immediately be isolated from all other horses on the same premises. A separate set of tools and grooming equipment should be used for isolated horses, and if possible personnel should not care for both infected and uninfected horses. All horses on the premises should have their temperature taken twice daily to identify any new cases of strangles promptly.

Read more about Can A Horse Recover From Founder?

What Other Diseases Can Humans Get From Horses?

Although cases of strangles in humans are very rare, there are some other diseases that are more commonly spread from horses to humans:

  • Dermatophilosis

Dermatophilosis is a common skin condition of horses, that causes crusty lesions on skin exposed to warm, damp conditions. It is often referred to as rain rot, mud fever, or rain scald. This bacteria can be transmitted from horses to humans, causing skin lesions on the hands and arms.

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  • Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal skin disease that affects horses, humans, and many other types of mammal. It causes ring-like dry, crusty lesions on the skin with hair loss. It is normally very itchy, and is transmitted through either direct contact or via objects such as grooming equipment that have been in contact with infected horses.

  • Salmonella

Salmonella is a bacterial disease that affects horses, humans, and many other types of animal. In horses and humans, it causes severe diarrhea, leading to weight loss, dehydration, and in severe cases can lead to death. Salmonella can be transmitted to both horses and humans by touching contaminated surfaces.

  • Campylobacter – Can Humans Get Strangles?

Campylobacter is the most common bacterial cause of gastroenteritis throughout the world, and can affect both humans and horses. This bacteria causes inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestines, causing diarrhea and weight loss. Humans can contract campylobacter from infected horses, but it is more likely to be spread via undercooked chicken or contaminated milk.

  • Cryptosporidiosis

Cryptosporidiosis is a gastrointestinal disease cased by a highly contagious parasite that can infect both humans and horses. In most cases it resolves without treatment, however horses and humans with compromised immune systems may have more severe symptoms and require long-term treatment. The parasite that causes this condition, Cryptosporidium, can survive for long periods in the environment and can contaminate water, soil, and other surfaces.

Other Diseases Can Humans Get From Horses - Cryptosporidiosis
  • Giardiasis

Giardiasis is an intestinal parasite that can infect both humans and horses. It is normally spread through contaminated water and soil, and causes diarrhea, weight loss, and poor coat condition in horses. Humans infected with Giardia will suffer from symptoms including abdominal cramps, bloating, and weight loss.

Summary – Can Humans Get Strangles?

So, as we have learned, the answer to can humans get strangles is yes they can, but luckily this is very rare! Personnel who are caring for a horse with strangles should take care to wear protective clothing such as disposable gloves, and avoid getting any nasal discharge from the horse on their eyes, nose, or mouth. It is also important to wash your hands and change your clothing after caring for a horse with strangles, to avoid transmitting the disease to other horses.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on can humans get strangles from horses! Have you ever known of a case of a human contracting strangles from a horse? Or maybe you’ve got some questions about other diseases that humans can get from horses? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!


How Long Can Strangles Live On Clothes?

The bacteria that cause strangles in horses can survive on clothes for up to 24 hours. This is a common route of transmission of strangles between horses, when riders, grooms and owners do not change their clothes between visiting one horse and another. A horse with strangles should be kept isolated and separate overalls worn by any people who come into contact with the horse.

Can Strangles Be Cured?

Strangles is highly contagious, but in most cases it is easily cured. The horse should be rested and adequate pain management administered to allow the horse to eat and drink comfortably. Antibiotics should be avoided, as horses that are not treated with antibiotics are more likely to develop long-term immunity to this disease.

What Does Rain Rot Look Like On Humans?

Rain rot, or dermatophilus, can be transmitted from horses to humans, although this is relatively rare. The symptoms are normally very mild, with skin lesions that resolve within a short space of time.

Can Humans Get Diseases From Horses?

Some diseases can be transmitted from horses to humans. These diseases are called zoonotic disorders.