An online survey carried out for Strangles Awareness Week (14 – 20 May) has revealed that strangles is “widespread throughout the UK” but knowledge of the disease and yard policies to help prevent it is “lacking”.

The survey of 350 people, which was conducted by animal health products firm Intervet during April, May and June of this year, revealed that 42% of horse owners were aware of confirmed cases of strangles in their area within a month of their completing the survey.

The research also highlighted that only 42% of yards have a stable management and hygiene policy, and only 40% of horse owners realised that dogs and cats could carry the bacterium that causes the disease.

Alasdair King, veterinary manager at Intervet UK and Strangles Strategy Group committee member said the newly-launched Strategy to Eradicate and Prevent Strangles (STEPS) (news, 8 March) should “help educate horse owners on the clinical signs to look out for and encourage openness should strangles hit a yard. This, in turn, will hopefully destroy the stigma that surrounds the disease.”

The STEPS voluntary code of practice, launched by the British Horse Society (BHS), contains practical advice on what to do in both suspected and confirmed cases, such as isolating any horse who has had nose-to-nose contact with an infected animal.

For more information on STEPS visit www.equine-strangles.co.uk