The development of a new blood test to diagnose strangles “looks promising”, according to the Animal Health Trust (AHT).

AHT senior scientist Dr Carl Robinson said: “The new method of diagnosis for the disease is still undergoing tests to ensure it’s viable, but it’s looking good.”

More than 1,000 horses who have been naturally infected with strangles are being surveyed over a three-year period in order to validate the test.

Dr Robinson said the AHT is also looking at horse susceptibility to determine whether some breeds are more prone to the disease than others.

Paul Jepson, chief executive of The Horse Trust, which contributed £228,150 towards the research, said the charity had been working in tandem with the British Horse Society (BHS). The AHT and BHS launched a campaign to raise public awareness of the disease in January (news, 8 February).

“The project is part of one big thrust to tackle strangles,” he said, adding that the new blood test should be commercially available in the next few years.

At present, most cases of strangles are identified using swabs that are inserted into the animal’s nose to the back of the throat.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (2 August, ’07)