Pre Movement Strangles Test

Ambers Echo

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I did not want to divert another thread so I am starting a new one. Are these becoming increasingly common?
I was first asked to do one on a pony I was selling about 2 1/2 years ago. I had never come across it before. Then 2 years ago my yard went down with strangles. Blamed on Amber as she was the first one with symptoms, but in the end it emerged it came from a silent carrier she had been turned out with who had been on the yard for years.

I left that yard once it was clear of strangles as some longstanding liveries were refusing to be tested. There were over 60 horses up there! Unsurprisingly a new outbreak up happened and YO laid down the law: ALL existing horses had to blood tested and if necessary scoped. And now no new horse can come on without a clear test. So I moved back (after re-testing all of mine) as I had loved that yard and the new rules were now far stronger than where I had gone to which just did the 14 day isolation thing but did not routinely test all horses.

For me the pre-movement strangles test - which Jenny & Dolly obviously had to have too - has just become part of my pre-purchase checks like a vetting. I pay for the blood test but if it came back positive I would expect the owner to scope. Or at least to split the cost with me and to arrange it while horse remains on their yard and for the sale to not complete till after a clear scope. If they weren't willing to scope I would walk away from the sale. But I know others buy the horse first and then test. In which case they are responsible for the stress and cost of scoping and, worst case scenario, isolating and treating. All without insurance which would not cover it.

But I'd be interested to know how others feel about it. How common are these tests nowadays? And who do you think should be responsible for further investigating a positive test? And should this pre-movement check be a standard part of a 5 stage vetting?
 
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Red-1

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I have personally never done one 'just because' but did have one tested that had a cough or two when I rode him to try. He was tested on vetting and it came back negative, but his cough was worse and we ended up not buying. Not because of a cough, I would have waited for him for that, but because the dealer kept telling me the horse was free of coughing and well, and wasted me 2 vet visits and I could not keep getting the vet out to a coughing (and the hast time also snotty) horse. It was too far away to keep going and assessing myself, so I walked away.

I did have the one we tested as 2 years after purchase we were told he had been tested as a carrier and not treated or anything, but when we tested he was clear :) I did trust the source, so I guess even "carriers" get over it in time.
 

Denbob

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When I first moved Denzel he had to be tested and isolated for 3 weeks despite testing clear - the yard had previously had a very nasty outbreak. Second yard as well required testing but no iso period. Third and current yard required neither.

If I was buying again I'd probably include it with a vetting for peace of mind but certainly something I hadn't thought of when I bought D.
 

Ambers Echo

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I would never have tested either before all 3 of mine ended up with strangles which nearly killed Katie's pony! It was horrendous. Now I am very pleased our yard has a strict policy on it. I wonder if more and more yards will start insisting on it?
 

ester

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I think it depends a bit on area, livery yards requesting tests seems quite common in esssex but I’d never come across it previously. But I think it’s spreading especially once yards have had an issue.
 

Surbie

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I looked at 15 yards in Surrey when I was going to move Arch - only one wanted a 2-week isolation period and none suggested a strangles test. In my short horse-loaning life I've never been asked for it, but I can see the sense in it.
 

PapaverFollis

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Most yards I've been on have had pretty lapse biosecurity and we've never tested pre-purchase but the yard we got The Beast from the horses never came and went and she'd been there 9 months. Granny had been out in a field with just cows for a long time when we got her. The ex-racer was probably the riskiest purchase strangles wise.

When we came up here we did a quarantine period because they'd been in a mixed load and had had an over night stop. But it was basically self enforced and I know people went and saw them in the field they were in and then went straight to their own horses etc, so pretty pointless!

It's something I'll probably do going forward though as I'm most likely to be buying out of the area and won't know the yard that I'm buying from. If and when we're buying again.
 

Auslander

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I ask incoming liveries to have a test, and don't let them set foot on the yard until I've had confirmation that they've tested clear. I've never had strangles here, but had my fingers burned a couple of times with positive antibody tests. Going through the isolation/biosecurity/guttural pouch wash thing is no fun for anyone, and I'd rather avoid if at all possible.
 

SEL

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Never been asked for it but did one as a pre move precaution knowing we'd had strangles on the yard - it had been given the all clear. Rapid call back from the vet when the Appy presented with sky high antibodies.

No temperature, bit quiet (but weather was hot), hadn't been near any of the suspects and did actually scope clear - but cost a lot of money because she had an adverse reaction to the scope which triggered ulcers. The draft who lived with her 24:7 was clear.

It's been 2 years now but I'm not sure whether she'd still have antibodies in her system.

That yard has pretty good isolation in place for new liveries now. It was a horse that came in from a dealer in Essex which developed strangles - he was in quarantine for 10 days before it showed tho
 

Ambers Echo

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The trouble with relying on quarantine is that it does not pick up the symptom free carriers. Up to 10% of horses who develop strangles become carriers and unless you test them, you'd never know.
 

racebuddy

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After personal just been on a yard with strangles a large livery yard mine has just had three lots of bloods done all
Negative , however i would definitely have it done on a vetting now xx
 

Black Beastie

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I’ve been told by vets that the blood test only tells if your horse has been exposed to strangles not that it has it.

A gutteral pouch test/wash is the only way to truly tell if they have or are carrying it. The blood just shows antibodies.

Personally I wouldn’t go to a yard that insisted on a blood test as you would technically have to do one everytime you went to a competition and came back. So they are pretty pointless.
 

Ambers Echo

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Strangles is a bacterial infection that can only be passed on with direct contact. It is not air-borne like equine flu or other illnesses. So by far the most common mode of transmission is via nose to nose contact with horses who are in direct contact with each other - ie turned out together or sharing a water source. In theory an ill horse at an event can sneeze onto a patch of ground that your horse then sticks its face in but it is very unlikely. When I am out and about I never let my horses touch noses with other horses and I always take my own water buckets and water supply. So the risk when competing is very low whereas the risk if you get turned out with a carrier is very high.

Insisting that all horses that live on the yard are clear when they arrive is a simple and very effective way of dramatically reducing the risk of an outbreak.
 

ihatework

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It’s really not commonplace to test (or even quarantine) in my experience.

In all my years across a variety of yards there has only been one with a strict policy in place. 7 days quarantine followed by strangles test. In the 3-5 days it took to get a result you were then moved to main yard if no nasties were showing either on blood or symptoms. If you got a positive antibody you remained quarantined for a repeat test, if stable then ok, if rising then horse had to be treated.
 

Ambers Echo

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Round here it used to be rare too - I never came across it before. But it seems to be on the increase. When I tested Dolly the vet said this type of test was becoming much more common. It has to be driven by YOs though -- there is no point an individual just testing theirs if there is no testing policy on the yard. I suspect yards who get their fingers burnt with an outbreak decide to introduce mandatory testing.
 

milliepops

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Never been asked for a test. Current yard was the only one to enquire after the health of my horses before moving them in. Previous yard had a very weird approach of putting *some* new horses in quarantine but not all, and having visiting horses for lessons etc allowed in the stables next door to the liveries. Drove me up the wall (not just because one of mine was a randomly selected quarantine victim!)

I'd have supported a blanket policy but the hit and miss approach made a mockery of the whole idea.
 

Ambers Echo

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I'd have supported a blanket policy but the hit and miss approach made a mockery of the whole idea.
Definitely has to be a blanket policy. The real problem with strangles are the symptom free carriers.
10% of horses with strangles become carriers. So the risk to any individual horse is low but on a population basis that is a lot of carriers and if you run a yard with horses coming and going eventually your luck will probably run out.

I can't imagine people being very happy if my YO had introduced mandatory testing one day, but living through an outbreak definitely changes your perspective. Everyone on the yard is 100% behind it. The yard is full with a long waiting list so I think the bio-security element is accepted by most people and for many it is a positive element to the yard and is valued highly. It is such a relief when an unknown horse arrives from a sale or dealer that you know 100% that they are not silently bringing this awful disease onto the yard.
 

milliepops

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totally agree AE, our YO stuck my horse (from a local sales) and a friend's (from a dealer) out in isolation but at the same time we had multiple strange horses staying on the yard several times a year, literally in nose touching accommodation with multiple long term liveries and it's that silent transfer of diseases that can really spread things.

We did have a strangles scare 12 months ago as one of the horses that stayed over for a clinic came from a place next door to a yard that did have confirmed strangles cases. But nothing changed in any meaningful way, new horses from apparently "non suspect" places still came and went without any precautions.

it's potentially difficult to manage when you have horses that travel from the yard and stay away - Kira went to several away shows last year for example, mostly she couldn't touch the horses stabled next door to her but I couldn't ever say there was no contact at all, and some places it's impossible to prevent. From my own POV i have stables that keep my horses slightly separate from the others but if people come and see your horses then you couldn't avoid the potential transfer of nasties.
 

Ambers Echo

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It's difficult isn't it. Mine are occasionally at stay away shows too. All those shows require up to date vaccs but you can't always prevent nose to nose contact from horses stabled near each other and vaccs don't protect for strangles. I hate it when I arrive somewhere and don't feel the stables are far enough apart! But you can't reduce the risk to zero. You just need to decide what precautions you feel ok with and then try not to stress. The risk for any one horse (ie the one next to yours at a show!) is very low. But it's a percentages game. Each day and each new horse presents a low risk but if your horse is repeatedly exposed to new horses on a busy yard then that luck will run out one day.
 

SEL

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I’ve been told by vets that the blood test only tells if your horse has been exposed to strangles not that it has it.

A gutteral pouch test/wash is the only way to truly tell if they have or are carrying it. The blood just shows antibodies.

Personally I wouldn’t go to a yard that insisted on a blood test as you would technically have to do one everytime you went to a competition and came back. So they are pretty pointless.
With the outbreak at my old yard they took 2 blood tests about 10 days apart and if the antibodies were going up then they moved to the pouch wash. With my mare her antibodies were so high that we didn't bother with the 2nd test and went straight to the wash. The big lad had a negligible level of antibodies in his blood test and actually the vets and AHT told me I didn't need to 2nd blood test, but given he was sharing a paddock with the Appy and we wanted to move yards I did it as a precaution.

From what I've read once they've been exposed they don't get it again, so chances are the Appy will now be immune. Its endemic in Belgium / France so highly likely my draft was exposed at some point in the past which is why he had no reaction.

That yard now asks liveries who take their horses off the yard for competitions to keep them in separate paddocks out of the herd. They test and quarantine every new horse that comes onto the yard. Still not perfect because the competing horses are often tied up on the yard or stabled next to random other horses so if they do pick anything up while they are out then it could still spread.
 

Aimeetess

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I wanted to view a yard once that was advertised, people seemed nice but wasn't allowed to even view it until I had both my geldings have a strangles test and they had seen the results.

Didn't bother, wasn't going to pay for 2 x strangles tests and not even know if I liked the yard!
 
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