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Strangles Prevention - What's your yard doing?

Whether you are a horse owner on livery or a yard manager, the following is a helpful set of guidelines both to minimise the risk of a strangles outbreak on your yard – and to deal with an outbreak should the worst happen…….  

Strangles biosecurity protocol

How to prevent Strangles being introduced to your yard

  • Blood test all horses planning to move to the yard.
  • Isolate all new arrivals for a minimum of 3 weeks.
  • Encourage owners to not borrow food/ water buckets etc and only use their own equipment, on and away from the yard


In the event of an outbreak:

1.Isolate all horses showing symptoms and any others that have had direct (nose to nose) or indirect (shared equipment) contact.  Call vet immediately.

2. If strangles is confirmed…..

Divide up yard in to 3 groups and stop all movement on to and off yard.

Red: All horses showing clinical signs.

These must remain in isolation until they have tested negative on 3 nasopharyngeal swabs over 2 weeks or 2 guttural pouch washes.

Amber: Horses who have had direct or indirect contact with those showing clinical signs.

These horses should be blood tested for strangles to identify current or previous exposure and possible carrier status. All positives should then be swabbed or washed and positives isolated and moved into the red group.

Green: Horses which have had no contact (direct or indirect) with the infected.

These could still be blood tested to see if they have had previous exposure and potential carrier status. Positives to be swabbed etc and moved groups if necessary.  


Dedicated colour coded equipment should be used for each group and staff who deal with all the horses should start with those in green and then move to amber and then red.

The yard must remain closed until all horses in the red category test negative


Isolation protocols

Ideally the isolation area should be at least 10m, preferably 25m away from non-infected horses. If this isn’t possible then boarding up grills between stables and fitting door grills, prevents nose to nose contact between horses.

A separate water supply is needed for isolated horses and separate equipment. All of which should be cleaned daily with a detergent e.g. virkon.

As few people as possible should come into contact with isolated horses and full isolation suits, boots and gloves should be worn. These items should not leave the isolation area and these horses should always be dealt with last on the yard.

Used bedding and uneaten food must be disposed of carefully, >30m away from grazing and exercising areas. Pets must also not be allowed in isolation areas.

Once the isolation facility is vacated it (plus everything in it) must be properly disinfected with an approved disinfectant.