Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Strangles reported in Whidbey Island horses, but an issue for all horse owners

Dr. Amber Itle
Assistant State Veterinarian 

Last week, strangles was diagnosed in a horse and two ponies at a Whidbey Island stable. There are a total of five horses and two ponies on the premise and the infected animals were recently purchased from a sale yard in Oregon.

While there is no formal quarantine for the facility, the owners have committed to isolating the infected horse and ponies, which are all under the supervision of a veterinarian. Additionally, no animals are currently being allowed on or off the premise.

Strangles is rarely fatal and the prognosis for recovery is usually very good with proper care. But as the name suggests, strangles can affect a horse’s respiratory system. Typically, signs of the disease include:

  • Fever.
  • Abscesses in the mandibular lymph nodes.
  • Nasal discharge that can include thick white and yellow mucus.
  • Inflammation of the throat.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Coughing.
  • In rare cases, bleeding from the capillaries.
While strangles is contagious and endemic in Washington, it is not usually fatal. Still, it is a reportable disease, meaning any diagnoses of strangles should be reported to the Washington State Veterinarian's Office.

The best protection against strangles is practicing good biosecurity. Here are some other suggestions from the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC):
  • When possible, isolate new horses for up to three weeks when they are being introduced to a new facility. 
  • During an outbreak, such as the situation at the Whidbey Island facility, avoid coming in contact with susceptible animals after handling an infected animal. 
  • Wear protective clothing, avoid using the same equipment on multiple animals, and disinfect both your hands and equipment when moving between animals.
The EDCC also publishes this “Strangles Fact Sheet,” which has more tips and suggestions.

Veterinarians should alert the State Veterinarian's Office of reportable diseases by calling (360) 902-1878.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Aquaculture coordinator signals new focus on shellfish and seafood industry for WSDA

Hector Castro

Washington has long been known for its oysters, geoducks and other shellfish that make up our state’s aquaculture industry. Now, WSDA is prepared to expand its role in working with the growers and harvesters of these agricultural products.
Laura Butler, WSDA aquaculture coordinator

In November, WSDA announced the creation of a new position at the agency, an aquaculture coordinator, to be filled by former Policy Advisor Laura Butler, who has a background in agricultural sciences and experience working in public policy.

The initial scope of work for this position will include:

  • Conducting introductory and outreach meetings with growers to understand their challenges.  
  • Providing outreach, education and technical assistance to local governments to learn about their processes and help them better understand the needs of the aquaculture industry.
  • Facilitating interagency coordination to streamline regulatory processes and identify areas where rules or regulations are redundant.  

WSDA’s aquaculture coordinator will also be a liaison to the Governor’s Office, other state agencies and external partners. In addition, this position is expected to coordinate efforts within the Washington Shellfish Initiative and co-chair the Department of Ecology’s Interagency Permitting Team.

Fish and seafood are among Washington's top exports, with $1.1 billion worth of product shipped to markets in Canada, Japan, China and other countries.

Thanks to the efforts of the aquaculture industry during the 2017 legislative session, the first year of the coordinator position is fully funded.