Blue Cross Burford’s equine unit is currently under lockdown after a rescued Shetland showed signs of strangles a month after arrival.
Skewbald youngster Little Timmy Tiptoes had already undergone the standard four-week isolation period for new arrivals when he showed signs of illness.
The 90cm Shetland was suffering from a severe nasal discharge and had a dangerously high temperature of 41 degrees.
After being admitted to the local veterinary practice as an emergency, he was screened for strangles and both a blood test and a nasal swab proved positive. He was also suffering from anaemia, which has compromised his ability to fight the infection.
The pony was originally rescued by the RSPCA before being taken in by the Oxfordshire rehabilitation and rehoming centre last month.
Blue Cross Burford’s horse manager Vicki Alford said: “On arrival Timmy was in a really sad state. He had overgrown and curled up hooves, was riddled with lice and very underweight.
“The transporter who brought him to Burford described the place where he was found as horrific — apparently there was no food or water and they were stood in mud up to their tummies. How they survived is anyone’s guess.”
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Following Timmy’s diagnosis, the Blue Cross implemented their disease outbreak protocol to prevent the strangles from spreading.
The highly contagious bacterial respiratory infection is transmitted though direct contact with an infected horse or indirectly through contamination in the surrounding area.
The equine section of the Burford centre is currently closed to the public, with strict biosecurity measures in place. The small animal centre for dogs, cats and small pets remains open.
“Timmy is now back at the Burford Centre and is much brighter. His temperature is back to normal and the nasal discharge has cleared but he’s not out of the woods yet,” Vicky added.
“He is in still in isolation, but we hope our stringent bio-security will have stopped an outbreak it in its tracks and that the horse unit will be up and running again soon.”