Top Ten Tips To Prevent Strangles

Strangles is not the most commonly diagnosed infectious disease of horses and at Ridings Equine Vets we are certainly seeing more and more cases of the highly contagious disease. In my opinion the majority of the outbreaks could have been avoided with a good Strangles prevention plan. Here are my top ten tips that every horse owner and yard owner should know to avoid Strangles on your yard.

  1. If you're buying a new horse have it blood tested for strangles prior to moving it to your yard. We commonly do this now during the pre purchase examination. Just as important is to wait for the results before moving the horse (sounds simple but it's easy to assume the results will be negative and get caught up in the excitement of taking your new horse home).

  2. Isolate all new horses with a good quarantine period of 3 weeks. New horses are the biggest source of Strangles getting on to yards. It is absolutely vital that they are kept entirely separate from the rest of the yard for 21 days. This also includes use of the arena.

  3. Never share water or feed buckets when away at shows and competitions.

  4. If you work with horses or move between yards develop the good practice of disinfecting your hands and footwear between yards and wearing separate clothing. Strangles can be carried by people very easily.

  5. If using horse transport that is hired or borrowed make sure it has been thoroughly disinfected between horses. I have frequently seen horses develop Strangles 7-10 days after arriving at a new yard, presumably picked up on the transport.

  6. If you stable your horse away at shows or clinics take some Virkon disinfectant in a spray bottle and disinfect the stable before you put your horse in it- especially the doorway, window frame and any exposed wood/brick.

  7. Make sure any horses on the yard with a cough or nasal discharge are investigated immediately. Some horses only show very mild signs of Strangles (or none at all) and if not diagnosed quickly many more horses will become infected. Isolation of any horse showing possible signs should be carried out fast.

  8. Vaccinate your horse against Strangles and ideally the rest of the yard. The vaccination works best when a whole yard approach is used but if that's not possible it will reduce the chances of your horse getting the disease.

  9. The strangles bacteria survives longer in water than anywhere else – make sure your yard have a good protocol for cleaning out shared water sources.

  10. Keep up to date about local outbreaks – there is a Strangles UK Alerts page on Facebook and Ridings Equine Vets regularly update our clients when we know of outbreaks in the area. Make sure we have your email address or sign up to our newsletters.

Finally, make sure you don't let the worry of Strangles prevent you from enjoying your horse! With sensible precautions Strangles can be avoided but if you're on a yard have a chat to your yard owner or better still ask them to contact us and we can help create a plan unique to your circumstances to ensure your yard limits the risks of Strangles.

Jenny x

Veterinary Surgeon, Ridings Equine Vets