Vets and equine care professionals are being urged to get behind the first Strangles Awareness Week to help eradicate the stigma around the disease.
The new national week of action was announced at last month’s National Equine Forum and will go ahead as planned between 4th and 10th May.
The initiative, which has received the backing of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), has been organised through a unique collaboration between the Animal Health Trust, the British Horse Society, Keeping Britain’s Horses Healthy, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), The (Dick) Royal School of Veterinary Studies and World Horse Welfare, who have come together for the first time to share their decades’ worth of knowledge, experience and research into the highly infectious disease.
In light of the coronavirus outbreak, the organisers have devised a series of social media activities to ensure everyone still has the opportunity to get involved in the Week and plan to use the lessons learned from the UK’s current situation to reinforce the importance of communication and biosecurity.
Andie Vilela, Redwings’ Campaign Manager, said: “It was always the vision of the collaborating organisations that Strangles Awareness Week would be a predominantly online event, so we’re really excited to still be able to go ahead with this new initiative.
“In fact, while we are in the grips of a human pandemic and the public are being educated on the importance of social distancing and handwashing, amongst other simple biosecurity measures, this time presents a really engaging opportunity to reinforce how vital it is to apply these behaviours when caring for horses too.”
Strangles Awareness Week is an opportunity for anyone to share their experiences, promote awareness and encourage support. One key action vets, equine professionals, livery yard managers and horse owners can take is the Stamp Out Strangles digital Pledge – a voluntary commitment to proactively champion open and respectful communication, as well as good biosecurity practices.
Veterinary Pledgers are featured on an interactive map demonstrating the growing UK-wide (and even global) support for better biosecurity, so far including individuals from Rossdales, the British Horseracing Authority and the German Equestrian Federation.
Everyone will also have the opportunity to show their support by revealing their own experiences of Strangles, sharing the Week’s messages and myth-busting facts on social media, and even turning their own social media channels “yellow” using free, downloadable images.
An editable Powerpoint presentation, recently updated with the latest research on Strangles, will also be made available for free to use in future veterinary clients’ evenings, and horse owners will be able to join in a live conversation between Dr Andrew Waller, Head of Bacteriology Research at the Animal Health Trust, and Nic de Brauwere, Senior Veterinary Surgeon and Head of Welfare at Redwings, who will be discussing Strangles and drawing parallels between its management and that of Covid-19.
To find out more about Strangles Awareness Week and to take the Stamp Out Strangles Pledge, click here.