Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - Fiona Williams Fiona Williams

Animal Health Trust launches interactive website detailing up to date information on diagnoses of the disease across the UK.

Horse owners, vets and paraprofessionals can now access the most up to date information on Strangles diagnoses from across the UK at the click of a button using a new online resource from the Animal Health Trust.

The new website, from the Surveillance of Equine Strangles project, is a huge step forward in the sharing of information about this harmful disease. It will quickly become a vital tool for people owning and working with horses, especially those travelling around the country to areas which have seen higher rates of diagnoses of Strangles.

You can view a short video tour of the new interactive web tool here

Strangles, as one of the most commonly diagnosed infectious diseases of horses worldwide with more than 600 outbreaks in the UK each year, causes immense welfare problems for horses and significant economic costs to their owners.

The new online tool includes a useful mapping function highlighting regions where cases have been confirmed, and allows users to change date ranges to view information particularly relevant to them and their location.

Information based on the geography of vet practices making diagnoses, the demographics of horses being confirmed with infection, the ways diagnoses are made and the types of samples being submitted for lab testing, is also included.

Users can look at the time course of diagnoses over longer time periods to highlight seasonal trends, and view the most important associated clinical signs and the combinations of these, as reported on submission forms sent with samples to diagnostic laboratories.

This new website provides comprehensive insights about the disease in a very up-to-date manner in a way that has never been available before. However, the resource is only as useful as the data supplied from vets on the ground…

Dr Richard Newton
Dr Richard Newton, Director of Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance

Dr Richard Newton, Director of Disease Surveillance and Epidemiology at the Animal Health Trust, said: “This new website provides comprehensive insights about the disease in a very up-to-date manner in a way that has never been available before.

“However, the resource is only as useful as the data supplied from vets on the ground. I would urge colleagues to help us to keep this resource as up-to-date and comprehensive as possible by completing full details on submission forms being sent to any laboratory, so this information can contribute – anonymously – to the national picture of Strangles.”

The Surveillance of Equine Strangles scheme was launched in April 2019 by the Animal Health Trust, in collaboration with the Royal Veterinary College and the Universities of Liverpool and Melbourne, thanks to funding from The Horse Trust. This followed a year of research and development to create a platform for collating information on laboratory diagnoses of the disease and recruitment of laboratories across the UK to the scheme.

The new web tool provides up to date information on Strangles, including a map of the UK highlighting regions which have seen diagnoses.

Jeanette Allen, CEO of The Horse Trust, said: “The Horse Trust is delighted to have been, and continue to be, a funder of this very important work at the Animal Health Trust. We support a number of crucial horse health projects throughout the UK and with worldwide collaboration. Strangles is a disease which is very worrying to horse owners, who, with accurate information about where outbreaks are and proper information about what they can do to help reduce the spread of strangles and other diseases, we hope to be able to significantly improve horse wellbeing”

The Surveillance of Equine Strangles scheme was recently presented to an international audience, at the first European Meeting of Equine Infectious Diseases in Normandy, France. The Animal Health Trust now hopes to extend the online tool to include international data. This will enable meaningful comparisons to be made of Strangles in different countries, which in turn could lead to new strategies on how to improve control of the disease in different parts of the world.

Abbi McGlennon, PhD student at the Animal Health Trust, who led the development of the resource, said: “Our aim with the Surveillance of Equine Strangles scheme is to reduce the spread of the disease. This website is one of the first key tools to emerge from the larger surveillance project. It joins the dots across the equine industry by collating information from laboratory confirmed Strangles diagnoses and communicating this back in almost real time. I’m excited about the prospect of extending this internationally, and the difference that could make for horses globally.

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