Speak Out On Strangles, Urges Horse Charity

In the light of a recent strangles outbreak, Redwings Horse Sanctuary invites horse owners to learn more and speak out about the equine disease at a veterinary seminar at its Aylsham site in Norfolk.

In February this year, Redwings reported two identified cases of strangles at their Piggots farm in Norfolk. Strangles, a highly contagious infection of the upper respiratory tract (nose and throat), spreads rapidly through contact with infected mucus, either directly between horses or indirectly with contaminated objects, such as feed and water containers.

The Sanctuary is highly experienced in managing and treating strangles cases as the infection can be prevalent in immunocompromised animals, such as those rescue and neglect cases taken in by Redwings; however, this was the first time in 23 years that there has been a case in the charity’s resident herd.

In addition to implementing immediate and stringent quarantine measures, restricting all non-emergency movements, mapping possible lines of contact between the patients and other horses across sites, and testing suspected cases with the help of the Animal Health Trust, the charity was determined from the outset to take an open and honest approach in communicating the strangles outbreak.

“We have always encouraged owners to speak out on strangles so we didn’t think twice about doing so as soon as it was identified at the Sanctuary. It’s time to ditch the strangles stigma and ensure that horse owners know how to identify symptoms and deal with an outbreak,” commented Redwings Chief Executive Lynn Cutress.

The charity is opening its doors on Wednesday 22nd July to horse owners who want to learn more about strangles prevention and management and learn from the charity’s own experiences. Their Aylsham visitor centre in Norfolk will host a free evening seminar, providing an invaluable insight into the disease itself, its effect on the horse, diagnosis, treatment and practical advice on how to prevent its spread with presentations from Head of Welfare and Behaviour Nic de Brauwere and Welfare Veterinary Surgeon Roxane Kirton.

“Strangles is endemic in the UK horse population meaning with live the threat of the disease every day. It can also be infectious even when symptoms are not showing in the horse, which makes it incredibly difficult to contain” explained Nic de Brauwere. “What is important is understanding what constitutes a high risk of outbreak and how to minimise that risk.

“We have extremely stringent quarantine procedures in place at Redwings to ensure that any horse coming into the Sanctuary is screened and cleared before they join one of our resident herds. However, our recent outbreak shows that no system or test is 100% air tight. If we can get an unexpected case of strangles among our residents at Redwings, then anyone can, so we believe it to be essential to share our knowledge and experiences with the horse owning public”.

The insightful seminar entitled “Speak out on strangles” is set to be very popular, especially as it is free to attend, so be sure to book your place early to avoid disappointment by calling 01508 481066 or emailing Redwings Education Officer Andie Vilela avilela@redwings.co.uk.

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