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Veterinary Professionals Urged To Support Strangles Awareness Week

11 months ago

3rd March, 2022 10h41


Veterinary professionals are being urged to support this year’s Strangles Awareness Week (SAW) – which aims to educate horse owners about the dangers of the highly contagious equine disease strangles, and help to prevent an outbreak

Leading equine welfare charities, vets, researchers and higher education institutions from around the world* have come together to organise the week – which is taking place between 2nd – 8th May.

Strangles is the most commonly diagnosed equine infectious disease worldwide with around 600 cases reported every year in the UK, and it’s hoped that it will be recognised as an equine disease of international risk by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) this year. Symptoms of the contagious respiratory illness range from laboured breathing, difficulty eating and depression, to a high fever, thick nasal discharge and painful abscesses. In severe cases strangles can pose a risk to the horse’s life.

This year, during SAW, owners are being encouraged to take the ‘Temperature Check Challenge’ by taking their horse’s resting temperature each day and inputting the reading into a free online checker, which will help owners familiarise themselves with temperature fluctuation and calculate an average. As a trusted source of advice and information for horse owners, SAW is equipping vets with additional tools to help them to support their clients’ needs and maximise their influence to prompt more conversations about strangles. Veterinary practices are being encouraged to support the week, and can apply for free resources, including a ‘Talk to me about strangles’ badge and an editable presentation to assist with hosting client evenings, either online or in-person.

Andie McPherson, Chairperson of SAW and Campaigns Manager at Redwings Horse Sanctuary, said: “We know that horse owners are eight times more likely to turn to their vet for advice about strangles than they are their friends** yet these conversations tend to happen on discovery of a case, when stress levels are high. SAW is all about education before an outbreak happens. We’re asking vets to get behind this year’s campaign which can only benefit all of us who work with, and love, horses.”

Dave Rendle, British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Junior Vice President and Chair of the BEVA Health and Medicines Committee, said: “BEVA are very pleased to support another Strangles Awareness Week and to see new initiatives being developed to prevent the spread of strangles and other infectious disease. BEVA would urge every horse owner and yard owner to discuss infectious disease control with their vet and to have plans and protocols in place. It is essential that horse owners are familiar with practical measures such as temperature checking so that they can identify infectious diseases such as strangles before they can spread. The Temperature Check Challenge is a great way to become more familiar with temperature checking.”

The online temperature checker can signal an overly warm horse and raise awareness of the importance of monitoring this vital sign on return from events and when moving yards. In addition, the collection of widespread horse data through this citizen research method could contribute to a better understanding of horse temperature range. Whereas a healthy horse’s range is often cited as 36℃ - 38.5℃,a study of strangles cases by the Surveillance of Equine Strangles project at the RVC found that pyrexia of 38.5℃ and over was more commonly found in strangles cases than abscessation. The collaboration behind SAW questions whether including 38.5℃ within normal range is helpful in terms of strangles prevention and hopes the widespread use of the temperature checker will help inform a more accurate normal range.

Andie said: “The Temperature Check Challenge aims to build awareness of the importance of this vital sign of horse health as well as give horse owners confidence in taking their horse’s temperature.

“People can upload their horse’s resting temperature into our free online checker and it will calculate the average based on the number of entries uploaded for each horse. If a high temperature is added the checker will notify the owner to look for other signs of ill health, check again later and consider speaking to a vet for advice.”

If you’re a veterinary professional and would like to join a list of ambassadors to help promote SAW through social media, please sign up here or email: [email protected]

To find out more about Strangles Awareness Week, the Temperature Check Challenge and other ways to get involved, simply follow the SAW Facebook page or go to

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