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Disease quarantine finally lifted by Norfolk horse sanctuary Redwings

Horses after the quarantine has been lifted at Redwings' Piggots Farm

Horses after the quarantine has been lifted at Redwings' Piggots Farm

Archant

A Norfolk horse sanctuary has said one of the “greatest challenges” it has faced in 30 years is over after a quarantine zone was finally lifted after a disease outbreak.

In February a farm belonging to Redwings Horse Sanctuary was struck by the respiratory disease called strangles, leading to wide-spread quarantine zones and restrictions on horse movements between the charity’s sites.

The outbreak was reported at it Piggots Farm site, near Tasburgh leading to 24 positive cases of the disease, the imposition of nine quarantine zones and rehoming operations ceasing at its headquarters at Hapton.

Today Redwings, which has 1,500 resident horses, confirmed the final quarantine area at Piggots Farm had been lifted, all movement restrictions had been lifted and the charity’s horse hospital at Hapton was back to normal operations.

The outbreak was the first of its kind for 23 years and has left the charity with a hefty bill - leading to an appeal for donations.

At the height of the outbreak Redwings was spending more than £4,000 a week to tackle the disease and had to close its Ada Cole visitor centre in Essex, leading to a fall in donations.

Hay stocks set aside for the winter also had to be used up.

Redwings Chief Executive Lynn Cutress said: “The strangles outbreak has been one of the biggest challenges we have faced in our 30-year history.

“I’d like to thank our supporters, new and longstanding, for their support and understanding during this extraordinary time.

“Sincere thanks also go to everyone who has already donated to help us deal with our outbreak and ensure our horses got the best possible care.”

“I’d also like to thank our amazing staff who have worked so hard to contain the disease; their care for and dedication to the horses has been unceasing – wonderful work.

“Strangles has affected so many areas of our work, but our teams have stood steadfast and remained positive throughout. I am so proud of each and every one of them.”

Strangles is a highly contagious infection of the upper respiratory tract that spreads rapidly through contact with infected mucus, either directly between horses or indirectly with contaminated items such as feed and water containers.

Although strangles is usually not fatal it can cause real distress and can result in large abscesses that prevent swallowing and restrict breathing.

•People can support Redwings in the wake of the strangles crisis by making a donation by visiting www.redwings.org.uk

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