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Recent Figures Reported in Vet Record for GB Strangles Surveillance


Data has been collated from GB- wide veterinary laboratories that provide Strangles testing, spanning a 3-month period from April to June 2018. Submissions were from veterinary practices and represented samples taken from cases of respiratory disease as well as normal horses (testing for freedom from disease).  With almost 10% of the blood tests giving positive results, it shows that strangles infection is present in many parts of GB. Also, as at least 100 horses tested positive for the infection during the 3-month period, horse owners and livery yard owners should be mindful of this and take suitable precautions to avoid accidental introduction of infection into yards.

Test Sample Tested Positives %
Strangles ELISA* 5336 519 (9.7)
Strangles Culture^ 811 42 (5.2)
Strangles PCR~ 1696 116 (6.8)

 Vet Record (2018) Equine Disease Surveillance, Quarterly Summary Vol 183 P289-292.

*ELISA involves testing for antibody to the bacteria (a blood test). A positive result indicates that the horse has been exposed to Streptococcus equi subspecies equi infection and has undergone an immune response.
Such horses can be free from Strangles despite having been exposed to infection previously, or they might be infected carriers. Bacterial culture and/or PCR testing is required to confirm whether or not the horse remains infected.

^Bacterial culture involves growing the bacteria for several days, followed by special tests to identify the bacteria present in het cultures – samples for bacteriology are collected from naso-pharyngeal swabs or guttural pouches.

~PCR testing involves detecting the genetic signature of the bacteria (either live or dead). Samples are usually collected from the guttural pouches.

The Premium Assured Strangles Scheme (PASS) offers a structured approach to preventing the spread of strangles, and yards can register onto the scheme for as little as £50 per annum for BRONZE status. The scheme has been running for over three years and we are happy to report that all member yards have remained free from strangles.  Further information on the scheme can be found at Email:



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