Strangles outbreak hits Britain

  • Four British counties have been struck by outbreaks of the highly infectious and potentially fatal disease, strangles

    Horse owners are being encouraged to act responsibly following a number of outbreaks of the potentially fatal disease, strangles, in various parts of Britain.

    The BHS says it is concerned that outbreaks in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Warwickshire could become a nationwide epidemic if horse owners do not treat the disease seriously.

    “Strangles is a highly infectious and contagious disease which is very easily spread between horses and yards,” explains BHS spokesperson, Nichola Gregory.

    “Horses can carry the bacteria withoutshowing any clinical signs of the disease and we are concerned that owners may unwittingly spread the disease by moving yards or going to shows.

    “This disease is far more prevalent than most horse owners realise and it is vital that no horses leave a yard where strangles is suspected.”

    The symptoms of strangles include a high temperature, coughing and nasal discharge. These indications may be with or without the swelling around the jaw, which is commonly associated with thisinfection of the lymph glands.

    In severe cases, the horse may find swallowing and breathing difficult and the disease can be fatal if the bacteria spreads to other parts of the body.

    A horse suspected to be carrying the disease should be isolated and the vet called. Other horses that have been in contact with a horse suffering from strangles should also be isolated to contain any outbreak.

    “When a new horse comes onto a yard, the animal should be isolated for at least a week to prevent the introduction of infections such as strangles,” says Kerstin Alford, head of the BHS welfare department.

    To get a free copy of the BHS guidelines on strangles send an SAE to British Horse Society (Welfare Department), Stoneleigh Deer Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2XZ.

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