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Speaking out about strangles is the focus of a new national week of action announced by some of the UK’s largest equine welfare organisations, including Redwings.
According to the Animal Health Trust, an average of 600 cases of strangles - a highly contagious respiratory disease - occur across the UK every year, making it the country’s most prevalent equine disease, far surpassing the number of cases of equine flu which hit the headlines last year.
Strangles can cause misery for a horse, with possible symptoms ranging from laboured breathing, difficulty eating and depression, to a high fever, thick nasal discharge and painful abscesses, and in severe cases can even pose a risk to the horse’s life.
An outbreak can also be financially and emotionally devastating for owners and equestrian businesses with horses often remaining infectious for several weeks, resulting in costly and lengthy quarantine procedures and the potential temporary closure of livery yards and the cancellation of events.
However, while strangles can happen to any horse, sadly the stigma around the disease can prevent those affected from being open about an outbreak, which is an essential part of preventing its spread.
That’s why, for the first time Redwings, alongside the Animal Health Trust, the British Horse Society, Keeping Britain’s Horses Healthy, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and World Horse Welfare, have come together to create the first Strangles Awareness Week.
The aim of the Week, which will run from 4th to 10th May, is to provide an opportunity for horse owners, livery yard managers, vets and professionals, including farriers and equine dentists, to share their stories of Strangles to tackle stigma and prompt more people to take proactive action to protect their horses from infectious disease.
Details of how everyone can get involved with Strangles Awareness Week will be shared soon!
Since November 2018, we've been urging horse owners and yard managers to sign-up to our Stamp Out Strangles Pledge; a voluntary commitment to take proactive steps towards protecting their horses from infections disease, which over 1,080 people have now taken.
To coincide with the announcement of Strangles Awareness Week, a new online Pledge has also been launched for vets and professionals, asking them to commit to checking their own biosecurity practices and making good hygiene and Strangles prevention normal topics of conversation with their clients and to signpost them to further helpful advice and guidance. Those who pledge will receive regular support through emails on the latest research into Strangles to help them stay one step ahead of the disease, for themselves and their clients.
To find out more about Strangles Awareness Week and take the new Vets & Professionals Pledge, as well as the existing Horse Owner and Yard Manager Pledges, just click here.
Andie Vilela, Redwings’ Campaigns Manager, said: “Sadly, without perceptions of Strangles changing, outbreaks will continue to take place. We want to show that Strangles is a disease that isn’t something to be afraid of and that horse owners can significantly reduce the risk of an outbreak with open communication and support. Strangles Awareness Week is a really exciting opportunity for those worried about infectious disease to learn from the extensive experience of all these incredibly knowledgeable organisations, but also to share their own stories and tackle the stigma.”