A welfare charity is urging owners to join its fight to “stamp out strangles” in the UK by signing up to its campaign.
Redwings Horse Sanctuary is launching an online pledge system for owners and yard managers as part of its new Stamp Out Strangles online hub giving free information and advice on the disease.
Strangles is caused by the streptococcus equi bacteria, which can cause horses to suffer from large pus-filled abscesses in their throat and neck. The highly contagious respiratory infection is transmitted though direct contact with an infected horse or indirectly, through contamination in the surrounding area. Although it is estimated that there are around 600 outbreaks each year in the UK it is difficult to be sure as it is not a notifiable disease, which means outbreaks do not need to be reported to the government.
Owners that pledge are agreeing to champion good biosecutity practices, communicate openly if their horse may have been in contact with strangles, identify if their horse is a strangles carrier through testing and work with vets to treat them as necessary.
Yard managers that pledge will be agreeing to reduce the strangles risk at their yard through screening new arrivals, producing a yard protocol for their clients and responding immediately if a strangles case is suspected.
Redwings’ education and campaigns manager Andie Vilela said: “As well as being a miserable experience for the horse, an outbreak on a yard, riding school or other equestrian business can bring activities to a standstill for several weeks and be financially devastating.”
The campaign was inspired after the charity recorded its first strangles outbreak in 25 years in 2015.
Rehoming has been temporarily suspended after an outbreak of strangles at the charity's Piggots site in South Norfolk
The last strangles quarantine zones at Redwings Horse Sanctuary have been lifted following an outbreak in February
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“We understand it can be hard to make changes to hygiene practices, especially while fitting busy lives around caring for horses. However, we know the appetite to improve biosecurity standards is out there. Over 90% of more than 2,000 horse owners we surveyed in 2016 said strangles should be more of a priority, and 80% said they would choose a livery yard that screens new arrivals for the disease,” said Andie.
“With the launch of the pledge and our brand new online hub, we hope this will give horse owners and yard managers the impetus and support to make meaningful changes – whether it’s the introduction of routine temperature checking or formulating a yard screening protocol with a vet – so together we can stay one step ahead of strangles and stamp out this disease for good.”
Owners will have access to a map of livery yards who have signed up to the pledge and will receive regular campaign updates and the latest guidance.
To make the pledge and access the new Stamp Out Strangles online hub, visit www.redwings.org.uk/strangles
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