People visiting Dartmoor are being urged not to touch the ponies following an outbreak of a highly contagious horse disease.
The Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society and the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust have issued a joint statement with a plea to the public to stay clear of the wildlife to stop the spread of Strangles
Strangles is a highly contagious and difficult to manage bacterial infection of the respiratory system.It is usually spread through direct contact with affected equines or even indirectly on items such as clothing, gloves or even cars.Strangles is hard to manage and eradicate because infected horses and ponies become carriers of the disease.Although some ponies may appear healthy and not show any visible symptoms, they can be intermittently infective to other ponies.
Livestock Protection Officer Karla McKechnie said: “We are aware that a number of ponies on Dartmoor currently have strangles."Infected animals are being monitored by their owners and by myself. In order to help contain the spread of the disease, we are urging all visitors to the moor not to go near or touch the ponies.“Strangles is highly infectious and transmitted via contact and we need everyone to work with us in helping to prevent its spread."Karla continued: "At the same time, we are also urging the public not to be tempted to feed the ponies or interact with them."There have been a number of reported cases countrywide of horses and ponies choking to death when they’ve been fed unsuitable food."Feeding of ponies has been directly linked to an increase in pony-related road accidents by encouraging them to the roadside in the expectation of being fed."Our message is to admire the ponies from a distance.”