Working in collaboration with over 14 equine organisations, we are helping to raise awareness of the potentially fatal respiratory disease, strangles, by urging horse owners to take their equine’s temperature every day for a week as part of this year’s Strangles Awareness Week (SAW).
Strangles is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes swelling of the lymph nodes and abscesses, primarily in the head and neck.
Horses can remain contagious for years if not treated effectively and do not gain immunity after contracting it.
Bransby Horses Veterinary Advisor, Jeremy Kemp-Symonds, said: “By taking your horse’s temperature every day you will quickly identify if it starts to elevate and in almost every case of strangles, a rise in temperature is one of the first signs the disease is present.”
Leading equine welfare charities, vets, researchers and higher education institutions from around the world have joined forces to organise the week, which is now in its third year and taking place between May 2 – 8.
The ‘Temperature Check Challenge’ (#TempCheckChallenge) asks owners to input a thermometer reading into a free online checker to help them get to know their horse’s normal range – something that fluctuates by a fraction of a degree through the day according to a range of factors.
By getting to know a horse’s normal temperature range, owners will be able to identify the need for veterinary intervention early, to help prevent strangles and other diseases involving an elevated temperature.
People taking the challenge will also be entered into a free prize draw and contribute to a database of temperatures detailing what the normal healthy range is in horses.
Strangles is the most commonly diagnosed equine disease worldwide with around 600 cases reported in the UK every year. Clinical signs include laboured breathing, difficulty eating, depression, high fever, thick nasal discharge and painful abscesses.
In severe cases strangles can pose a risk to the horse’s life.
A strangles outbreak can 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.
The cost of a thermometer and building in a regular routine of checking for fever on moving yards or return from events is comparatively inexpensive and, as it could indicate inflammation and explain poor performance issues so has benefits far beyond the identification of strangles.
To take part in the #TempCheckChallenge during SAW 2022, follow the campaign on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @stranglesawarenessweek @StranglesWeek StranglesAwarenessWeek using hashtags #SAW2022 #SpeakOutOnStrangles