Published: 04/04/2016 13:41:53
REDWINGS’ STRANGLES OUTBREAK ONE YEAR ON
Reflections on how the AHT helped at one of the most challenging times in Redwing’s 30-year history and introducing the Strangles Survey.
On 19 February 2015, a resident horse at Redwings Horse Sanctuary was confirmed as having Strangles. Although the charity is highly experienced in managing and treating Strangles in rescue cases, this was the first time in 23 years that the sanctuary had an outbreak in one of its resident herds. To ensure the swift diagnosis and containment of this highly contagious disease, they turned to the AHT for help.
At the height of the outbreak 24 horses at Piggots Farm in Norfolk showed varying degrees of clinical infection and tested positive for Strangles, many more required testing and nine quarantine zones were in operation across the charity’s Norfolk farms resulting in an expenditure of over £4,000 a week to contain, manage and treat the disease. Together we combated the disease for eight months, with all tests being processed through our Diagnostic Laboratories Services (DLS).
Dr Andrew Waller, Head of Bacteriology at the AHT says, “Through our research we have a greatly improved understanding of Streptococcus equi, the bacteria that causes Strangles, which has already enabled us to develop more accurate diagnostic tests that exploit specific genes and proteins. Thankfully we were able to quickly test and report positive cases to the Redwings team to assist in appropriate quarantining of infected horses.” He adds, “Samples taken from the herd will ultimately help our continued research into eradicating this terrible disease. A greater understanding of which genes are required by S. equi to cause disease will inform and direct our work towards the development of an effective vaccine.” You can read more about our Strangles research by clicking here.
Supporting Redwings during its Strangles outbreak, Dr Richard Newton, Head of Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance, said: “The AHT has worked closely with Redwings for over two decades on better understanding the persistence of Streptococcus equi. This work has been very important in preventing introduction of the infection into many populations of horses and ponies around the world.
“The AHT’s scientists and diagnostic laboratory staff worked closely with Redwings’ vets and staff in 2015 in devising and conducting laboratory testing protocols in order to clear this rare incursion of the disease onto Redwings’ own sites, and we have together learned valuable new lessons. The AHT applauds Redwings openness in publicising that it had Strangles and its thoroughness and timeliness in dealing with the problem, returning its population to a Strangles-free status – we think this is a great example for others in the horse sector.”
One year on, along with the University of Liverpool and the AHT, Redwings have developed a Strangles Survey, which aims to understand horse owners’ perceptions of the disease and their current approach to infectious disease prevention and control. Dr Claire Scantlebury, Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool, said: “I am hugely pleased to be involved in this collaboration; this is an exciting example of putting research into practice, aimed at developing practical advice for the equine sector.”
The Strangles survey will open online here – www.redwings.org.uk/strangles-survey – from 08 April to 08 June 2016. #SpeakOutOnStrangles
The survey is completed anonymously and all information supplied will be kept on password protected computer databases and not used for any other purpose beyond this study.
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