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The equine community is being urged to get behind the first Strangles Awareness Week to help eradicate the stigma around the disease. Strangles is an equine infectious disease that has over 600 cases annually, making it the most prolific equine disease in the UK. An outbreak of Strangles can be devastating for horse owners and yard owners. 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.
The new initiative, which has received the backing of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), has been organised through a unique collaboration between the Animal Health Trust, the British Horse Society, Keeping Britain’s Horses Healthy, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), The (Dick) Royal School of Veterinary Studies and World Horse Welfare, who have come together for the first time to share their decades’ worth of knowledge, experience and research into the highly infectious disease.
In light of the coronavirus outbreak, the organisers have devised a series of social media activities to ensure everyone still has the opportunity to get involved in the week, and plan to use the lessons learned from the UK’s current situation to reinforce the importance of communication and biosecurity.
Andie Vilela, Redwings’ 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.”
Getting involved in Strangles Awareness Week is an opportunity to help make Strangles an open subject, to help eradicate the stigma and encourage discussions around the disease in order to encourage increased communication in the management and prevention of outbreaks in the future. The week will allow horse and yard owners, as well as other equestrian professionals, 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.
For yard owners, this is the ideal opportunity to raise awareness with your horse owners, by way of using the resources to highlight the issues of biosecurity, as well as plan and introduce new protocols on your yard. The coronavirus lockdown has given many yard owners the opportunity to review their yard policies and procedures, so why not do the same for your biosecurity procedures, such as the way you introduce new arrivals to the yard or reminding your clients how to minimise the risk when attending events.
There are lots of resources available for yard owners such as the Template Infectious Disease Yard Agreement, Disease Risk Assessment and the informative Strangles Information Pack which gives lots of information on preventing and dealing with an outbreak, as well as isolation procedures and testing.
From 4th - 10th May, help us 'turn social media yellow' with this optimistic and informative campaign that aims to reach people who may not have biosecurity at the top of their priority list. To help everyone get involved, there have been a range of Strangles Awareness Week resources made available here.
To find out more about Strangles Awareness Week and take the Stamp Out Strangles Pledge, visit www.redwings.org.uk/strangles/make-a-pledge.
LiveryList is the UK’s #1 Livery Yard Directory and Yard Owner Resource, and has been working with Redwings on their #StampOutStrangles campaign since 2018. There are numerous Strangles resources for yard owners available on the LiveryList Yard Owner Hub, including a specific section on Biosecurity and Disease Prevention.
LiveryList also runs the Livery Yard Owners UK - Discussions and Advice Facebook group. A closed group especially for verified owners across the UK, it is a friendly and welcoming group allowing yard owners to discuss and share advice, as well as network with other yard owners in their area.