Good yard management and biosecurity provide the mainstay of Strangles prevention. Several measures can be taken to minimise the risk of Strangles on a yard, these include:
- Ensuring that the yard is not overcrowded.
- Avoid sharing tack or equipment from horses of an unknown health status.
- At shows/when away from the yard do not allow your horse to touch horses of an unknown health status. Take your own buckets, water and equipment and do not allow horses to share.
- Ensure that new arrivals to the yard are quarantined for at least 2 weeks. The isolation facility should be at least 10m away (ideally 25m) from the other horses and all equipment should be kept separately.
- A Strangles vaccination policy could be implemented on the yard. Please talk to your vet about this if it is something you are considering.
- Some yards will insist that new horses are blood tested for Strangles before arrival on the yard. This is advantageous as it will identify any carriers who could potentially infect the yard. Best practice is to blood test before arrival and then at the end of the isolation period.
Management during an outbreak:
Even if all of the above steps are taken there is still a risk of Strangles on your yard. With this in mind it is important to have a yard protocol of what to do should an outbreak occur. Please speak to your vet about creating this. Below is an outline of the steps to take once a case of Strangles has been identified.
- Firstly the affected horse needs to be isolated from all other horses. This facility should be at least 10m away from the yard (ideally 25m) with all of its own equipment. It also should have its own water source. Staff should not move between the infected horse and normal horses.
- Contact your vet to discuss appropriate management, treatment and testing.
- The yard should be closed to prevent horses from entering or leaving the yard (even if they appear healthy).
- Horses should be divided into three groups which do not mix:
a. Red group- horses with clinical signs of strangles or a raised temperature
b. Orange group- horses which were in contact with horses from the red group, even if it was only in-direct (sharing water troughs etc.).
c. Green group- no known contact with horses in either the red or orange group
- All healthy horses should have their rectal temperature monitored twice daily and any horses showing a raised temperature or clinical signs should be moved to the red group.
- Foot dips and separate clothing/equipment should be available for each group of horses. Ideally separate staff should look after each group but if this is not possible then staff should always move from the lowest risk to the highest risk horses (green to orange to red) thus touching the infected horses last.
- Notify all owners on yard.
- No horse should be allowed to leave the red area until 3 consecutive negative nasopharyngeal swabs or a single negative guttural pouch wash is taken. Each sample should be tested for both culture and PCR.
- Horses in the green and amber groups should be blood tested to check for evidence of infection or carrier status.