Epizootic lymphangitis: how to spot and report the disease

How to spot epizootic lymphangitis, what to do if you suspect it and measures to prevent its spread.

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales

Epizootic lymphangitis affects horses and mules. It can affect cattle, but this is rare.

It doesn’t affect humans.

The last outbreak in Great Britain was in 1906.

Epizootic lymphangitis is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect it you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

How to spot epizootic lymphangitis

Clinical signs include:

  • patches of damaged skin anywhere on the body
  • swollen and hard glands
  • a thick yellow scab over a patch of ulcers
  • discharge or ulcers in the nostrils

Pay special attention to damaged skin in and around wounds, especially if the wound has been healed for months.

The earlier you detect epizootic lymphangitis, the more likely the disease can be cured. Fatality increases the later the disease is found.

How epizootic lymphangitis is spread

Epizootic lymphangitis is spread by flies and by contaminated riding equipment.

The disease can live in soil for up to 15 days.

Preventing and controlling epizootic lymphangitis

You can help prevent epizootic lymphangitis by practising strict biosecurity on your premises.

If you report suspicion of epizootic lymphangitis, APHA vets will investigate.

If epizootic lymphangitis is confirmed the outbreak will be controlled in line with the contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases.

Further information on prevention and control

Controls to prevent disease

What happens when a notifiable disease is suspected or confirmed

Published 26 August 2014
Last updated 18 October 2018 + show all updates
  1. Contact details for reporting a notifiable disease updated

  2. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

  3. First published.