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We're urging everyone to get behind the first Strangles Awareness Week to help eradicate the stigma around the disease.
The new national week of action was announced at last month’s National Equine Forum and will go ahead as planned between 4th and 10th May.
The new initiative, which has received the backing of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), has been organised through a unique collaboration between Redwings, the Animal Health Trust, the British Horse Society, Keeping Britain’s Horses Healthy, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), The (Dick) Royal School of Veterinary Studies and World Horse Welfare, as we wanted to share our collective knowledge, experience and research into the highly infectious disease.
In light of the coronavirus outbreak, a series of social media activities have been devised to ensure everyone still has the opportunity to get involved in the Week and we plan to use the lessons learned from the UK’s current situation to reinforce the importance of communication and biosecurity.
Andie Vilela, Campaign Manager, said: “It was always the vision of the collaborating organisations that Strangles Awareness Week would be a predominantly online event, so we’re really excited to still be able to go ahead with this new initiative.
“In fact, while we are in the grips of a human pandemic and the public are being educated on the importance of social distancing and handwashing, amongst other simple biosecurity measures, this time presents a really engaging opportunity to reinforce how vital it is to apply these behaviours when caring for horses too.”
According to the Animal Health Trust, an average of 600 outbreaks of Strangles take place every year, making it the most prolific equine infectious disease in the UK. It not only causes misery for the affected animals, but can be financially and emotionally devastating for horse owners and equestrian businesses. Sadly, the stigma around Strangles can prevent those affected from being open about an outbreak which is an essential part of preventing the spread of disease.
Strangles Awareness Week is an opportunity for anyone to share their experiences, promote awareness and encourage support. One key action vets, equine professionals, livery yard managers and horse owners can take is the Stamp Out Strangles digital pledge – a voluntary commitment to proactively champion open and respectful communication, as well as good biosecurity practices. So far, almost 1,200 people have taken the Pledge, including individuals from prominent organisations such as Rossdales, Hartpury College & Hartpury University, the British Horseracing Authority and the German Equestrian Federation.
Everyone will also have the opportunity to show their support by revealing their own experiences of Strangles, sharing the Week’s messages and myth-busting facts on social media, and even turning their own social media channels “yellow” using free, downloadable images.
An editable Powerpoint presentation, recently updated with the latest research on Strangles, will also be made available for free to use in future veterinary clients’ evenings, and horse owners will be able to join in a live conversation between Dr Andrew Waller, Head of Bacteriology Research at the Animal Health Trust, and Nic de Brauwere, Senior Veterinary Surgeon and Head of Welfare at Redwings, who will be discussing Strangles and drawing parallels between its management and Covid-19.
To find out more about Strangles Awareness Week and take the Stamp Out Strangles Pledge, please click here.