The BHS are supporting a national week of action encouraging people to speak out and challenge the stigma of the UK’s most prevalent equine disease.
An average of 600 cases of Strangles - a highly contagious respiratory disease - occur across the UK every year. Strangles can affect any age, sex or breed of horse, with symptoms ranging from laboured breathing, difficulty eating and lethargy, to a high fever, thick nasal discharge and painful abscesses - in severe cases can even pose a risk to the horse’s life.
An outbreak can also be financially and emotionally devastating for owners and equestrian businesses with horses often remaining infectious for several weeks, resulting in costly and lengthy quarantine procedures with the potential for temporary closure of livery yards and the cancellation of events.
While Strangles can happen to any horse, sadly there is often a stigma surrounding the disease which can prevent those affected from being open about an outbreak, with 75% of all yard managers responding to an online survey identifying fear as one of the main barriers to talking about Strangles publicly.
Dave Rendle, British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Junior Vice President and Chair of the BEVA Health and Medicines Committee, said: “Strangles should be easy to control. With a little more understanding of the disease, we could make massive strides to protect our horses and prevent the disease spreading. Every horse owner should spare an hour or two to tune into Strangles Awareness Week.”
Returning for its second year, Strangles Awareness Week 2021 will take place from 3rd to 9th May with the aim to provide horse owners, yard managers, vets and equine professionals with a platform to share their own stories and promote support for those affected by Strangles.
Last year’s Strangles Awareness Week reached more than half a million people through social media, with well-known equestrians sharing the Week’s posts and messages - and it’s hoped more will get involved this year.
Strangles Awareness Week is organised by leading equine welfare organisations, vets, researchers and higher education institutions in this field. It is a unique collaborative effort between Tthe British Horse Society, Intervacc, Keeping Britain’s Horses Healthy, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Scotland’s Rural College’s Premium Assured Strangles Scheme (PASS), Surveillance of Equine Strangles (SES), The (Dick) Royal School of Veterinary Studies and World Horse Welfare, who have brought together their decades’ worth of experience of either caring for horses with Strangles, supporting those coping with outbreaks or research into the disease.
As well as practical information and free resources to support those who may be tackling outbreaks, this year’s event also includes a series of podcasts with figures from across the equestrian community sharing their experiences of Strangles and encouraging others to take up constructive conversations about the disease’s prevention and management.
Further information about what to expect during this year’s Strangles Awareness Week will be made available soon.
For more information on Strangles, how to spot the signs, and actions to take, view the BHS advice at the following link: