Devon equine charity the Mare and Foal Sanctuary has confirmed an outbreak of strangles at its rehabilitation centre in Newton Abbot.

The highly contagious respiratory infection was identified within a group of six young horses who had recently arrived at Honeysuckle Farm.

One of the horses was confirmed to have the infection on Saturday (25 April) and the others also displayed signs of the infection.

The youngsters, who were rescued from the south west in a joint effort with the RSPCA, are now in quarantine receiving treatment and no horses will leave or arrive at the centre until it receives a strangles-free status from the charity’s vets.

“At Honeysuckle Farm we see horses with all kinds of veterinary conditions and each new horse that comes in to our care receives a thorough veterinary evaluation – part of which is to be screened for contagious diseases,” said a charity spokesman.

“Having recently admitted a group of abandoned youngsters, the evaluation was carried out and we identified strangles within this herd.

“The Mare and Foal Sanctuary has a very strict quarantine procedure with a designated area for new arrivals. We have every confidence in our biosecurity measures, which have been developed alongside our vets.”

While Honeysuckle Farm has been closed, the charity’s four other sites remain open as usual, including the visitor centre at Coombe Park, Totnes.

Rehoming will not be affected by the outbreak since horses are rehomed from the charity’s other sites.

“Please rest assured that with the measures we have in place, we can safeguard not only our own horses but also the wider equine community,” the spokesman added.

“As a reputable welfare charity we have a responsibility to be transparent and accountable regarding our quarantine measures and to lead by example in educating others with regard to disease containment and control.

“The Mare and Foal Sanctuary would like to thank everyone for their support at this time.”

Those looking for advice regarding prevention of diseases and quarantine measures can call the Honeysuckle Farm head office on 01626 355969.