Strangles in the Spotlight at Scotland Conference

The eyes of the veterinary world are on Scotland's capital city this week as a conference organized by The British Horse Society and the Animal Health Trust brings together the scientists and vets at the forefront of combating equine strangles.

Illustrating the need for such efforts, a riding school 20 miles from the conference is currently in the grip of a strangles outbreak. This stable has employed the latest diagnostic techniques and a massive biosecurity effort in an attempt to keep the disease under control.

On the first day of the conference a Dorothy Russell Havemeyer Foundation workshop will be held at Dundas Castle. Scientists and researchers from all over the world will be presenting their work, exchanging research results, and fostering new collaborations. The day will concentrate on advances made possible through the completion of the Streptococcus equi and Streptococcus zooepidemicus genome sequencing projects and their implications in the prevention of strangles.

Day two will concentrate on the clinical problem and attendees will discuss the best diagnostic and preventive techniques that can be adopted during an outbreak. The conference includes consideration of carrier status, case management, and the prospect of an effective vaccine.

"The progress that has been made in combating strangles over the last 12 months is unprecedented," said Havemeyer Workshop Chairman, Andrew Waller, PhD, BSc. "The genome sequencing has enabled scientists to develop a rapid and effective blood test, the equine industry has brought forward a new voluntary code in the management of outbreaks, and as a result of comparing S. equi with S. zooepidemicus we've got a real chance to produce an effective vaccine."

David Sutton, MA Vet MB Cert EM (Int. Med.), PhD, MRCVS, of Clyde Veterinary Group, Lanark, one of the practitioners seeing to the horses affected by strangles at nearby Kingsbarn Equestrian Centre, commented: "It is good for Scotland to be hosting such a prestigious conference and workshop centered upon efforts to combat a disease that presents a significant welfare concern, with deep economic and social impacts, that seems to be reaching endemic status in the UK."

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