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:
- discharge from the nose
Risk to humans from glanders and farcy
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 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
Legislation relating to glanders or farcy
The main legislation on the control of glanders and farcy is the Infectious Diseases of Horses Order 1987.
Published: 26 August 2014
Updated: 22 November 2016
- Risk to humans from glanders and farcy - it used to read: 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.
- AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
- First published.