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Our horses, like Audrey, are relying on as much as ever as we face ongoing challenges due to the pandemic.
New research has been published as a result of international efforts to create an effective vaccine for the contagious equine disease strangles. It is hoped that a fully-licenced product will be available to horse owners in the UK from 2020.
Redwings follows all advances in equine veterinary research with interest and strangles has been an issue close to our hearts for more than 20 years as we regularly rescue and treat horses suffering from this contagious and very unpleasant illness. Our ‘Stamp Out Strangles’ campaign aims to motivate owners to protect their horses from the dangers of the disease and use biosecurity (measures to restrict the spread of possible infection) to avoid becoming one of the 600 outbreaks estimated to occur in the UK every year.
Vaccinating horses against infectious disease is a key responsibility for owners to help protect their animal from debilitating and life-threatening illness and a key biosecurity measure. In addition to equine flu and tetanus vaccinations, a strangles vaccine will give horse owners another tool to help them keep devastating infectious diseases at bay. However, Redwings, along with other vets and researchers, are keen to stress that vaccination will complement rather than replace the importance of screening and hygiene measures as the most effective way to reduce the risk of strangles to any horse.
We are encouraged by the fact that in trials, the prototype vaccine effectively protected 81% of ponies from developing strangles, with no adverse side effects. Importantly, the vaccine can also be distinguished from active strangles infection on blood tests, which had been a concern with earlier products. This means vets will be able to tell the difference between a horse that has been vaccinated and a horse that is developing disease and poses a risk of infection to other horses. The level of immunity currently starts to reduce a few months after a horse has been vaccinated, but work is continuing to achieve a high level of protection against strangles for longer.
The Animal Health Trust (AHT) is a world-leader in strangles diagnosis and research and Redwings vets worked closely with the Trust when we experienced our own strangles outbreak in 2015. Our ‘Stamp Out Strangles’ campaign also received the AHT’s ‘Health and Welfare Award’ in 2017.
Click here for details of Redwings ‘Stamp Out Strangles’ campaign or for more information about the disease.
The published research article is available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.01.030