Guidance

Glanders and farcy: how to spot and report the diseases

How to spot glanders and farcy, what to do if you suspect them and measures to prevent their spread.

Glanders and farcy affect horses, donkeys, mules, and a variety of other animals.

Humans can also be affected.

The last confirmed case in Great Britain was in 1928.

Glanders and farcy are notifiable diseases. That means if you suspect them you must tell the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) immediately. Failure to do so is an offence.

How to spot glanders and farcy

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

Risk to humans from glanders and farcy

You can catch glanders or farcy by contact with infected animals or their body fluids. It can also spread in the breath.

The disease is likely to be fatal if not treated immediately. See a doctor immediately if you think you have been exposed.

You should isolate any suspect animals and avoid contact where possible. Use protective clothing including gloves and a face mask during any essential contact.

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.

Preventing and controlling glanders and farcy

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

If you report suspicion of glanders or farcy APHA vets will investigate.

If glanders or farcy are 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

Legislation relating to glanders or farcy

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