Publication - Advice and guidance

Glanders and farcy: how to spot and report the diseases

Published: 31 Oct 2018

Advice on what to do if you suspect there is an outbreak of these infectious diseases 

Published:
31 Oct 2018
Glanders and farcy: how to spot and report the diseases

Glanders and farcy affect horses, donkeys, mules, and a variety of other animals. Humans can also be affected.

Latest situation: the last confirmed case in Great Britain was in 1928.

Clinical signs

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:

  • coughing
  • discharge from the nose
  • fever
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. 

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.

Legislation

The main legislation on the control of glanders and farcy is the Infectious Diseases of Horses Order 1987.

Biosecurity

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.

You can help prevent disease by practising strict biosecurity on your premises. Our equine biosecurity guidance outlines practical, day-to-day actions that can be easily adopted in order to reduce the potential for the introduction or spread of disease-causing agents.

Contact

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.