It´s a life threatening infectious disease caused by the bacterium Burkholderia mallei.
The organism is spread, most commonly by the ingestion of contaminated food or water.
However, other opinion suggests that direct contact between horses with discharging lymph nodes or active skin lesions and close contact with coughing horses with lung infections will transmit the infection to horses and people.
People with hands, clothes, grooming equipment or tack contaminated with infectious material can also spread Glanders. Overcrowding of horses, poor stable biosecurity, poor hygiene, feeding and water supply conditions and the transport of horses are all predisposing risk factors for spread of infection. In some cases, infected animals don´t show clinical signs while others show a variable manifestation and severity. In the acute form of the disease, there may be fever, weight loss, discharge from the nose and coughing.
Small granulomas form in the nasal passages discharging pus and form ulcers, with raised irregular borders. In some cases, infection spreads to the lungs, forming many small tubercle like nodules. These nodules progress and burst, causing coughing and aerosolization of infective material and spreading infection to horses and people in close proximity.
The DNA test is used to confirm the presence of the organism's specific DNA, in pus or a skin sample. There is no available vaccine for Glanders.
This article is based in scientific veterinary literature.