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SRUC Stables' Strangles Disease Prevention Efforts Accredited

27 March 2015

SCOTLAND, UK - The Oatridge Stables at Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) has gained important recognition of their efforts to prevent the dangerous equine disease Strangles.

The stable yard has become the latest accredited to the Premium Assured Strangles Scheme (PASS), a UK wide scheme protecting horses from Strangles. The scheme was launched by SRUC with the support of the British Horse Society.

Oatridge yard manager Shirley Melling said: “I am delighted to achieve accreditation. Our yard is a busy teaching facility with the horses ridden daily in the arenas of the Scottish National Equestrian Centre.

"In addition to riding we teach horse care, and many other practical aspects of the equine industry, so co-ordinating the PASS application took longer than on some commercial yards.”

Events at Oatridge have been welcomed by those promoting horse welfare and activity. Marie-Claire Nimmo, the Chairperson of the National Pony Society (Scotland) commented: “Well done Oatridge – its good to see Scotland’s top equine establishment leading the way with demonstrating freedom from strangles.”

Strangles is a common, highly infectious disease of horses caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus equi. It affects the lymph glands around the throat and can lead to dangerous abscesses and swelling, hence the name strangles.

The disease is not air borne but passed on through horse to horse contact or via contaminated surfaces, including tack and clothing. Horses in riding schools, livery yards, racing stables or stud farms can be particularly susceptible.

According to Alison Braddock of SRUC’s SAC Consulting, Veterinary Services, who helps co-ordinate the PASS scheme, an increasing number of yards are considering this proactive approach to a disease many in the horse world fear.

She said: “It means everyone in the yard working together, including horse owner clients and with vets involved at every stage. All horses in the yard are blood tested and if no traces of Strangles are found, the yard achieves a PASS accreditation.

"If any horses are found to be carrying Strangles, they must be isolated and treated to eliminate infection before receiving PASS accreditation.”

PASS scheme members follow practical biosecurity guidelines to reduce further risk, including testing new arrivals and taking sensible precautions to reduce exposure at shows, events or competitions.

These steps follow the British Horse Society’s STEPS guidelines (Strategy to Eradicate and Prevent Strangles).

With the involvement of vets so important Ms Melling praised the help given by Susan Donaldson from Clyde Vet Group who tested four of the horses at Oatridge and Louise Cornish from the Dick Vet Equine Practice who tested 20 more.

Ms Melling also acknowledged the key role Yard Supervisor Gordon Todd plays in maintaining biosecurity: “It needs constant awareness and monitoring of who is coming to the yard.

"That can be difficult being linked to the Scottish National Equestrian Centre as horses from various locations are frequently visiting to compete in the arenas.

"Gordon is my second set of eyes and ensures even our students arrive well informed. Quite often they have their own horses at home and don’t understand the need to change their clothing before entering a different yard.”

Further Reading

Find out more information on Strangles by clicking here.

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