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A student livery horse arrived at the beginning of term that had followed the Yard biosecurity protocol, which included a negative strangles test result within three weeks of arriving, a normal temperature and no clinical signs.
The horses’ temperature was taken daily each morning as part of this protocol. On the 4th day after arriving to the yard, the student reported to the Yard Manager that the horse had a decreased appetite however, the horses’ temperature had been normal that morning. The horses’ temperature was taken again once this had been reported, and there had been a marked increase in temperature and the horse had started to produce some white nasal discharge from one nostril. The vet was contacted immediately and the horse and the stable was cordoned off with barriers until the vet arrived, approximately 30 minutes later. Once examined, the horse was moved in a lorry to the isolation facilities, where a nasal swab was taken; this was approximately an hour after first reported.
The stable remained cordoned off, and was cleared and disinfected by a designated member of the yard team, the horse lorry used to transport the horse was disinfected (standard procedure to clean and disinfect after every use). The students who owned horses in that barn were all met in person by the Yard Manager to reassure them and inform that we had isolated a horse from their barn due to clinical signs, and that an isolation protocol was to be carried out for the remaining 21 horses for the next 14 days. Students were provided with factual information about strangles which assisted with clarifying any misconceptions about the disease. Students were requested to be vigilant with observing for any changes in behaviour or any signs of ill health, the horses’ temperatures were to be taken twice daily and the horses were only to be exercised in the designated indoor arena (all schools and walker had been disinfected). Horses from this barn were not allowed to use any of the communal facilities, such as the walker, turnout, hacking track, wash box or solarium area and any manure from this barn was placed into a designated muck trailer to be removed from site. Any farrier visits were requested to be delayed until after the 14 day period.
The students were requested to continue to follow our biosecurity protocol of using foot dips on entering and exiting the yard, changing clothes between yards and other horses, washing hands and avoiding cross-contamination between horses by not sharing equipment, such as mucking out tools , and not touching other horses within the barn. A washing facility was provided for horse clothing, and washed on a 60c cycle with disinfectant. Sanizorb disinfectant powder was added to the horses bedding, along with the stable partitions and front of the stables being washed with virkon disinfectant. Steri-7 disinfectant was used in the fogger machine to sanitise the barn.
All other students with horses on the yard were notified via email that evening and were requested to continue to follow the disease outbreak protocol. Every equine student was informed via email and requested to follow strict bio-security. Every Equine Further Education student was met and informed about strangles and bio-security.
Movement of horses onto and off the yard was prohibited until further notice and adjacent livery yards were contacted, along with any students who had recently removed their horses off the yard.
Blood tests were taken from all 21 horses isolated in the barn the following day to re-test for strangles. All results returned negative. All horses temperatures remained in normal range throughout the duration of the 14 day isolation period. The disease outbreak protocol was lifted after the 14 day period as no other horses presented with clinical signs and had negative blood test results returned.
Here at Hartpury we have worked really hard as a team to put a protocol in place and make sure everyone sticks to it. This story shows that our policy really works, and it is all credit to the diligence of all our equine staff and students that Hartpury's horses are so well protected from strangles.