Wednesday September 18, 2019
Strangles Information

Hetty Hill from Waterlane Equine Vets has helped me to put together the information below – please read it carefully. Hetty is a former member of our branch and has had first hand experience of dealing with a strangles outbreak so is very aware of how emotive this subject can be, she is very happy to speak to anyone who has any concerns or alternatively please speak to your own vets.

Biosecurity Advice for Minchinhampton Pony Club Members (06/08/19)
Following recent events, we have put together the following biosecurity advice our members. To our knowledge, there are no confirmed cases of strangles locally or within our branch at this time, but it is important we all remain vigilant and follow the precautions listed below.

Strangles
What is it – strangles is a bacterial infection caused by Streptococcus Equi which may affect horses or ponies of any age.

How is it spread?

  • By direct contact between horses and ponies or by indirect contact such as –
  • People moving between horses may carry the bacteria on their clothes or hands       
  • Equipment being shared between horses (e.g. feed and water buckets, tack or mucking out equipment)
  • By other animals moving between horses such as dogs and cats on the yard

What are the symptoms?

  • Dullness and reduced appetite
  • A temperature over 38.5℃
  • A snotty nose (typically nasal discharge with bacterial infections is thick and yellow)
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the jaw
  • Some horses or ponies may show only mild symptoms

Prevention:
Taking appropriate biosecurity measures is essential in helping to prevent spread of strangles.

At Home:

  • Monitor horses closely for any of the symptoms listed above.
  • If you have any concerns, isolate the horse and contact your vet immediately. They will be able to discuss the best course of action, including tests required and a more detailed biosecurity plan.
  • If a strangles outbreak is suspected, no horses should be moved on or off the property until the disease status is confirmed
  • Isolate any new arrivals to the yard for 2 weeks, or ensure their strangles status has been confirmed by testing.

Isolation is recommended for:

  • Any horses or ponies with confirmed strangles
  • Any horses or ponies that have been in contact with a confirmed strangles case
  • New horses arriving at a yard.
  • Horses or ponies that become infected with strangles may not show symptoms for up to 10 days, but may still shed the bacteria and pass it to other horses in this time. This is why an initial isolation period of 14 days is recommended when moving horses to a new yard.
  • Alternatively samples to test for strangles may be taken before movement. This should be discussed with your vet.

Isolation means no direct or indirect contact:

  • Ideally horses in isolation should be handled and mucked out after non-isolated horses.
  • Separate equipment should be used for horses in quarantine and human clothing washed before making contact with any other horses. 
  • A disinfectant foot bath and hand wash should be present at the entrance and exit to isolation. Virkon is a suitable disinfectant. 
  • You are advised to contact your vet to discuss the best way to set up an effective isolation area.

At Competitions:

  • Avoid direct contact with other horses and ponies
  • Do not share feed or water buckets
  • Do not take water from communal water sources while away at events
  • Consider transport as a potential point of infection, it is good practice to disinfect lorries or trailers between groups if transporting any unknown horses

This advice applies to all contagious diseases – horses and ponies travelling and mixing with new horses on a regular basis will be at risk for catching or spreading conditions such as strangles and equine flu, but these risks can be reduced by following the guidelines above.

See the BHS Strangles Leaflet which will give you more information.

It would appear that what happened this weekend was a false alarm and everyone will be able to enjoy the rest of the summer holidays but please be vigilant and notify your vet if your horses and ponies show any unusual symptoms.