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Scientists at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) are to launch a new blood test for strangles early next year.

The test, developed with funding from the Horse Trust, reveals horses that have been exposed to Streptococcus equi, the bacterium that causes strangles, allowing the vet to identify “at risk” horses, including carriers.

Dr Andrew Waller, head of bacteriology at the AHT, is hoping to launch the test in time for the stud season.

“It would be an ideal test for screening horses as they come in to stud, but we’ve still got validation tests to run on it, so all we can say is that it’ll be available as soon as possible,” he told H&H.

The AHT is also upgrading its DNA diagnostic test to be four times more sensitive than previously.

Dr Waller explained: “When it’s launched — again, early next year after validation tests — it will be the most sensitive test on the market and we expect it will cut the diagnostic time from 48-72 hours to just 24 hours.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (6 December, ’07)