Surveillance of Equine Strangles (SES) is a new project based at the Animal Health Trust.
Our laboratory network collates data from UK diagnostic laboratories on positive diagnoses of Strangles. Findings are summarised quarterly and shared below.
Funded by the Horse Trust and South Essex Insurance Brokers, SES is investigating where in the UK Strangles is occurring through laboratory confirmation of the causative bug behind Strangles, a bacteria called Streptococcus equi (S. equi).
The ability to recognise where in the UK Strangles is being diagnosed allows for owners and vets to increase their vigilance and biosecurity/hygiene measures when they know that they are in, or are travelling to a higher risk area. Not only do we want to help contribute to research into Strangles but one of our key aims is to share our findings with the equine industry to help keep the UK’s horses and ponies, happy and healthy and to reduce the spread of Strangles.
Q2 2019 Summary (April – June)
Between April and June 2019 there were 89 laboratory confirmed diagnoses of Strangles across the UK, from samples submitted by 48 veterinary practices. The number of laboratory diagnoses of S. equi in Q2 is lower than the previous quarter, where 118 diagnoses were reported. Given the increasing number of equine influenza (EI) diagnoses made in Q2, veterinary focus when attending horses with non-specific signs of respiratory disease may have been directed more at EI rather than Strangles, possibly explaining the lower numbers of laboratory diagnosed S. equi samples seen this quarter.
In Q2 Leicestershire and Rutland saw the highest number of S. equi diagnoses followed by parts of West Sussex and Cheshire. The most frequently reported clinical signs were nasal discharge and pyrexia (a raised temperature ≥38.5°C) followed by ‘other’ clinical signs. ‘Other’ clinical signs included bastard strangles (S. equi abscesses in other sites of the body, including but not limited to, the sinus, lung and kidneys), purulent material seen in the guttural pouches via endoscopy and difficulty swallowing.
June 2019 Outbreak Map
May 2019 Outbreak Map
Q1 2019 Summary (January – March)
In the first three months of 2019 there were 118 laboratory confirmed diagnoses of Strangles across the UK, from samples submitted by 57 veterinary practices. Through the information gathered by SES it’s possible to broadly visualise where in the country these diagnoses of Strangles are happening, as shown in our map. Areas with higher numbers of diagnoses were identified, including Monmouthshire and Newport, Northumberland and parts of West Sussex and Cheshire. Through further information provided by vets when submitting samples, SES identified that, 38% of samples came from commercial premises, 32% from private and 29% from other premises types.
Diagnoses of Strangles were seen across all major breed types, with sports horses and UK native pony types accounting for nearly two thirds of diagnoses where breed was stated. These findings show that Strangles doesn’t discriminate as to which horses will become ill and that it can affect any horse doing any range of activities from frequent competitions or meeting another horse out on a hack.