Strangles statistics uncovered - 05/07/06
Two out of three horse owners are aware of strangles outbreaks in their area in recent years, yet less than half of yards have quarantine facilities to help keep this highly contagious disease at bay.
These are the worrying findings of a survey carried out during the inaugural Strangles Awareness Week by Europe’s leading equine vaccine company, Intervet UK Ltd which highlights both the scale of the problem and the fact that the disease is more widespread than is often thought. Recent high profile outbreaks in the New Forest and the Scottish Borders further demonstrate the need for horse owners to remain vigilant for clinical signs of the disease which include fever, nasal discharge, enlarged glands on the head and neck and abscesses. The survey also revealed that only 79% of those questioned knew how to recognise signs of the disease.
In addition, a mere one third of people were aware that 10% of horses become carriers of the disease (horses who harbour the disease with no outward signs), after a strangles infection up to a year previously, while 81% of yards inadvertently act as a breeding ground for the disease by having shared water sources, where the bacterium can live for prolonged periods.
“Strangles Awareness Week stressed the significance of establishing good stable management and hygiene procedures on yards in the fight against strangles, which, together with vaccination, will help prevent the disease,” comments Tim Zoch, senior product manager at Intervet UK Ltd, manufacturer of the strangles vaccine, Equilis StrepE.
“The research carried out during the initiative showed that 70% of horse owners would consider vaccinating their horses against strangles, but we have a long way to go before horse owners are fully aware of how horrific this disease really is and the procedures that can be put in place to help avoid it.”
For more information on strangles, please ask your vet or log on to www.equine-strangles.co.uk. Alternatively, please call Intervet’s support team on 01908 685685.
First Strangles Awareness Week 15 - 21 May 2006
The world’s first Strangles Awareness Week is to take place this May (15 – 21) in a joint initiative between animal health company, Intervet UK and the British Horse Society to raise awareness of this highly contagious and seriously debilitating disease and how to control it.
With growing reports of strangles outbreaks throughout the country, this trail-blazing awareness week will focus on the significance of good stable management and hygiene procedures in the fight against strangles, together with vaccination to help prevent the disease and the role we can all play in remaining vigilant for clinical signs in horses.
Supported by accomplished rider and high profile member of the equestrian Kidd family, make-up artist Jemma Kidd, Strangles Awareness Week will see veterinary practices across the UK holding informative owner evenings to help horse owners do all they can to prevent strangles hitting their premises.
A ‘Strangles Helpline’ - 01908 685685 – is available to answer any queries that horse owners may have on the disease. Information can also be downloaded from the strangles website – www.equine-strangles.co.uk - which details reported outbreaks of the disease throughout the country. The website will feature information on Strangles Awareness Week including top tips for owners on avoiding the disease, identifying groups most at risk from catching strangles and details of the vet practice owners evenings taking place throughout the UK.
In addition, a Strangles Professional Yard Pack will be available via vet practices and BHS representatives during Strangles Awareness Week for livery yard owners and managers wishing to learn more about the disease. The unique pack includes everything you need to know about the disease and features a useful tack room poster, handy equine year planner, eye-catching car stickers to encourage owners to ‘get a grip on strangles’ and a voucher booklet providing owners with discounts on everything from equine insurance to tack.
“Strangles is a terrifying disease which could not only halt your riding activities for a long time, but also has horrific welfare implications for horses unlucky enough to catch it,” comments, Jemma Kidd. “By backing Strangles Awareness Week, I hope to be able to raise the profile both of the disease and the preventative measures that should be put in place to help avoid it.”
For further information on Strangles Awareness Week, please log on to www.equine-strangles.co.uk or phone the Strangles Helpline on 01908 685685.
STRANGLES did you know... - March 2006
Strangles is one of the three most significant equine respiratory infections worldwide and is responsible for 30% of infectious diseases.
Strangles isn’t a viral infection, but it is caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus equi. Different strains have varying levels of severity.
In Sweden, approximately four cases of strangles are seen for every case of ‘flu.
36 Irish cases of the disease were reported between January and March of last year, with a further 56 outbreaks recorded between April and August.
In the UK, nearly 20% of horses sampled during recent bacteriology testing proved positive for the strangles bacterium, Streptococcus equi.
Strangles is fatal in 1% of cases, with 10% of infected horses developing ‘Bastard’ strangles, the serious complication where further abscesses form on other body organs.
Horses can harbour the disease with no outward signs for years after infection and may shed the infective pathogen for up to six weeks upon recovery.
Whilst 75% of horses develop immunity of up to five years or more after infection, 25% of horses may go down with the disease again within this time.
Last year strangles cost at least two yards approximately £20,000 each.
Although horse-to-horse contact is often thought to be the most common means of the bacterium spreading, the local environment and particularly shared water sources are very important modes of transmission. It is also spread by in-direct contact such as tack and stable equipment.
The bacterium is known to survive for 63 days on wood at 2°C and even longer in water.
The strangles vaccine is the first of its type to be available to horse owners in the UK and took 12 years to develop.
Top ten tips to get a grip on strangles! - 28/02/06
Strangles is a highly contagious, seriously debilitating disease which is, understandably, feared by horse owners. As with any disease protection programme, vaccination has a vital role to play among other preventative measures. With this in mind, Alasdair King, MRCVS, veterinary manager at Intervet UK Ltd offers horse owners ten top tips to help reduce the chance of their horse coming down with this devastating condition.
1) Ensure good hygiene procedures are followed – Strangles is transmitted directly by horse-to-horse contact and indirectly on tack, feed, equipment and even owners themselves. Putting in place and enforcing a comprehensive hygiene protocol will significantly reduce the chances of an outbreak on your yard and also prevent the disease from spreading.
2) Quarantine new arrivals – As the incubation period for strangles is approximately three weeks, it is advisable that all new horses on a yard be quarantined for at least this period and swabbed before being allowed to mix with others. During this time the newcomer should be closely monitored for signs of disease.
3) Limit the number of horses on a yard – Overcrowding increases the likelihood of respiratory infection spreading from horse-to-horse and so should be avoided.
4) Reduce contact with horses of unknown origin – Strangles is now one of the most common infectious respiratory diseases in the UK and there is a significant chance that an unknown horse may have come from an infected yard. Reducing the number of ‘strangers’ your horse comes into contact with will dramatically reduce the chance of contracting strangles.
5) Be vigilant for clinical signs - A horse infected with strangles may have a high temperature, nasal discharge, cough, depression, lack appetite, show respiratory distress or exhibit enlarged glands on the head and neck. These enlarged glands often become abscesses, which contain highly infectious pus. However in some cases few clinical signs are evident and diagnosis is only made when another horse goes down with the disease and exhibits more classic signs.
6) Watch for complications – If strangles is diagnosed, be aware of the possible complications. In 10% of cases, an often fatal complication known as ‘Bastard’ strangles develops. Here abscesses also form in other body organs. Another complication is purpura haemorraghica (damage to blood vessels of the limbs, eye lids and gums) which can be so extreme that it can cause circulatory failure and death.
7) Remain on your guard – New outbreaks can occur up to six weeks or more after the initial outbreak as infected horses can shed the bacterium for long periods. In addition, about 10% of horses may become ‘carriers’, harbouring the disease with no outward signs, for years after an infection. This makes strangles an extremely difficult disease to control and is usually the reason for repeat outbreaks on a yard.
8) Don’t take chances – If you suspect strangles contact your vet as soon as possible. Ideally the horse concerned should be isolated and the area, along with all equipment, tack etc., that the horse has been in contact with, should be thoroughly disinfected.
9) Be aware of horses at risk – Strangles can affect all ages and types but those most at risk are young stock, horses kept in large numbers and those which travel a lot, for example to shows, riding club events and competitions.
10) Vaccinate the vulnerable – Horses considered to be at high risk should initially be vaccinated twice, four weeks apart and then given a booster every three months. Medium risk horses may be re-vaccinated less frequently, i.e. every six months. If you are unsure whether to vaccinate or for more information, please consult your vet.
To raise awareness of this disease, Intervet UK has joined forces with the BHS to launch Strangles Awareness Week, to run from 15 - 21 May 2006. For further information please visit www.equine-strangles.co.uk or call the strangles helpline on 01908 685685