Glanders and Farcy is a serious bacterial disease of the respiratory tract and skin, affecting mainly horses and other equine animals (e.g. mules, donkeys, zebras).

Causes of Glanders and Farcy

There are two forms of the same disease caused by a bacteria, Burkholderia mallei. The disease is called "Glanders" when the principal lesions are seen in the nostrils, submaxillary glands and/or lungs and "Farcy" when located on the surface of limbs or body.  It is also an important zoonosis.

Further information on Glanders and Farcy

What animals are affected?

Horses, mules and donkeys are the species most often affected. Horses tend to be chronically affected, whereas donkeys and mules get the disease in the acute form. Dogs, cats and wild carnivora may be infected.

When was the last outbreak of disease in NI?

The last outbreak of the disease here was in 1910. It still survives in parts of Europe, Asia, Asia Minor and North Africa. It remains a notifiable disease in this country.

How is the disease spread?

Apparently recovered animals remain carriers. Infection occurs by ingestion, leading to blood infection localised in the lungs, and also in the skin and the mucous membrane of the nasal passage.

What are the clinical signs?

Horses are usually infected by eating or contacting contaminated food/ water/ troughs/ tack. The disease is characterised by the formation of nodular lesions in the lung and other internal organs and ulcerations of the mucous membrane at the upper respiratory tract. In the acute form, nasal discharge, coughing, a high fever, and ulceration of the nasal mucous are symptoms of this disease. Death occurs from septicaemia in a few days. The discharges are infectious.

In chronic forms, nodules develop subcutaneously and ulcerate. The lymph vessels thicken and there is enlargement of the lymph nodes of the area. Nodules develop in the nose, the turbinate bones and on the nasal septum. They enlarge up to 1cm in diameter then ulcerate. The animals are sick for months and then die or remain carriers. These carrier animals may continue to spread the disease.

Diagnosis can be made by taking samples from clinical cases. Swelling at the injection site, often with a high temperature, often indicates a potential carrier state, and can be an aid to field diagnosis.

Spread of the disease

Distribution of this disease is now restricted to some countries in the Middle East, Africa, India, SE Asia as well as China and Mongolia.


In the event of a disease notification here the Department will restrict movement of horses under the following legislation, the Movement of Animals (Restrictions) Order (NI) 2004.

Anyone suspecting the presence of the disease, must contact their Private Veterinary Practitioner (PVP) or DAERA Regional Office immediately.
To find the telephone number of your nearest office, call the DAERA helpline on 0300 200 7840.

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