- 31 Oct 2018
Glanders and farcy affect horses, donkeys, mules, and a variety of other animals. Humans can also be affected.
In both glanders and farcy small lumps, or ‘nodules’, may form beneath the skin. These nodules will ‘ulcerate’ or burst.
If the nodules are mainly in the nostrils, lungs and other internal organs, the disease is known as glanders.
If the nodules are mainly on the surface of the horse’s limbs or body, the disease is known as farcy.
Chronic glanders and farcy
Glanders and farcy can be ‘chronic’, lasting for several months or even years, before horses eventually die from lung damage.
Another sign of chronic glanders or farcy is enlarged lymph nodes, for example in the neck.
Acute glanders and farcy
The disease can also be ‘acute’, developing suddenly and intensely and leading to death within a few days.
Other signs of acute glanders include:
- discharge from the nose
How glanders and farcy are spread
Glanders and farcy are spread when horses eat infected food, water or come into contact with contaminated equipment. Infected animals that do not die from the disease will continue to carry and spread it.
Human health implications
Glanders is a potentially serious disease in humans if it isn’t treated, but effective treatments are available.
The chance of glanders being transmitted from a horse to a human is very low. Human cases of glanders are rare. Transmission to humans only happens where a human has been in close contact with infected animals which are showing clear signs of disease.
Humans in contact with cases of glanders aren’t at risk of passing disease on to other humans.
You should isolate any suspect animals and avoid contact where possible. Use protective clothing including gloves, a face mask, and goggles or an eye shield during any essential contact. Dispose of this protective equipment in a sealed bag and wash your hands with soap and water afterwards.
How to control the disease
An outbreak will be controlled in line with the contingency framework for exotic notifiable animal diseases.
The main legislation on the control of glanders and farcy is the Infectious Diseases of Horses Order 1987.
The policy on disease control is that prevention is better than cure. This approach works by reducing the chances of a disease entering the animal population, and if it does then it can be quickly spotted and dealt with through the preventative measures.
Biosecurity is about being aware of the ways disease can spread, and taking every practical measure to minimise the risk of disease spreading.
If you suspect signs of any notifiable diseases, you must immediately notify your Scotland: field service local office at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Failure to do so is an offence.