Welcome to our biosecurity page jointly produced by Stromsholm and The Horse Trust. Here you will find downloads and resources to help your knowledge of equine disease and how to mitigate its spread. Farriers have a very important role to play and we value your help in helping owners and horses and we are very pleased to have you taking part in this initiative! If you can’t find what you need below, please ask us firstname.lastname@example.org
Equine Biosecurity protocol leaflet
Equine Flu factsheet
Download nowWhat is it and what are the clinical signs?
Equine flu is an infectious disease which affects the upper respiratory tract of horses. There have been many outbreaks in the UK in 2019 & horseracing was halted in response to flu in February. The highest number of flu cases have been reported in June/July and they are still happening.
Clinical signs usually appear within 1–5 days of exposure to the flu virus and they can last for 3–6 weeks. Signs can include a high temperature, cough, nasal discharge, enlarged glands (under the lower jaw), conjunctivitis, lethargy, loss of appetite and filling of the lower limbs.
How is it spread?
Like human flu, equine flu is very contagious. It spreads rapidly with the virus being released into the atmosphere as droplets by infected animals coughing. The virus can spread over longer distances than some other diseases, so any infected animal needs to be isolated by 100m to distance to reduce the risk of airborne spread.
The flu virus can also live on surfaces, objects, tools and peoples’ clothing. Cleaning or disinfecting your equipment, washing or disinfecting your hands and changing clothing between yards can help to manage the risk of spread.
What do I do if I think there may be flu on one of my yards?
Notify the yard manager straight away if you have any concerns (any of the clinical signs above and suggest that they call their vet. A special Equine Influenza Surveillance Programme at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) provides a laboratory testing service allowing all vets to send in swabs taken from horses with suspected flu and confirm not only if flu is present, but also which strain is responsible. It is crucial that yards follow the advice of vets to minimise the risks associated with this virus.
Vaccination is crucial for flu. The disease is often introduced on to a premises by a non vaccinated horse. Horses should be vaccinated (complete primary course) and receive a booster at least annually. At the moment, twice yearly is recommended to offer the best protection. If over 70% of the country’s horses were vaccinated, flu would not be able to get a foothold because of a process called “herd immunity” and this is why it is very important that ALL horses are vaccinated, whether or not they go anywhere. Current vaccines are effective, despite what you may hear to the contrary.
At the moment only 40% of the UK’s horses are vaccinated, are your clients included in this number? Make sure that neither they nor you, are contributing to the spread of this disease.
Watch our handy video for practical tips!
EquiFluNet on Twitter:
AHT’s EquiFluNet site:
Strangles factsheet from Redwings
How do you solve a problem like strangles? Let’s find out from the horse’s mouth!
We hope you love our new animation inspired by real conversations we’ve had with those who work with horses. Thank you to the yard managers, horse owners and riders from across the country, and the Waveney Harriers Pony Club, for their help in putting this together.
What’s strangles and what are the signs?
Strangles is a bacterial infection affecting a horse’s respiratory system. Early signs are usually fever, dullness and loss of appetite; followed by nasal discharge, swollen glands and abscesses around the head. Fever generally develops before a horse becomes infectious.
It can take up to 21 days for a horse to show symptoms. Some horses only develop mild signs of disease, but are still infectious. Although strangles is not often fatal, it can cause serious suffering to the horse and heartache for owners and businesses affected by an outbreak.
Some horses become strangles carriers if they are not checked by a vet shortly after infection, and treated if necessary. Carriers appear healthy but can shed bacteria at any time. Strangles can be stopped in its tracks if we use routine testing and hygiene procedures. The good news is this is becoming more common across the industry.
How does strangles spread?
Strangles is not airborne, but can spread fast. Horses may become ill after contact with an infected horse, or indirect contact with contaminated surfaces, equipment, tack, water tanks, or human hands, clothes and shoes.
Strangles can survive in the environment, but its longevity depends on factors such as temperature and moisture. Bacteria have been found in water tanks 30 days after being contaminated, whereas it can be killed in as little as two days by direct sunlight.
What do I do if I think strangles may be on one of my yards?
Notify your client straight away if you have concerns about infectious disease and advise them to contact their vet.
Remember healthy-looking horses on the yard may also be infectious, so take precautions to protect yourself and your other clients. If you are on site, thoroughly disinfect any equipment you have used there with a product that is known to kill strangles (eg: Safe-4, Virkon, Steri-7). Change outer clothing, disinfect boots and thoroughly wash and disinfect hands. If possible, disinfect vehicle tyres.
You may prefer to postpone routine visits to a yard with strangles, or schedule a visit at the end of the day to allow for thorough disinfection before setting out again the next day.
There are no guarantees, but good biosecurity can drastically reduce the risk to horses and yards.
• Encourage yards to screen new horses for strangles. Ideally a horse should spend three weeks in quarantine on arrival and be tested to ensure they are not a strangles carrier.
• Use and promote good hygiene practices such as handwashing between handling different horses, then disinfecting equipment and disinfecting or changing clothes and boots between yards.
• Everyone should be alert to signs of disease and act as soon as it is suspected. If it looks like strangles, assume it is until you know otherwise! Regular temperature checking means infection can be spotted and contained before it spreads.
• Promote respect around strangles. An outbreak can happen to anyone and being honest and kind helps everyone work together to contain the disease.
• Keep up to date with what’s happening in your area. The Surveillance of Equine Strangles project posts updates on confirmed diagnoses of the disease at: www.aht.org.uk/disease-surveillance/surveillance -equine-strangles
For more information
Redwings Stamp Out Strangles Hub & Pledge: