Pay Close Attention to Nylon Halters, Leads During Post-Strangles Cleaning

A good wipe-down with sanitizing agent might work well on wood, concrete, and plastic, but nylon equipment is harder to properly disinfect, researchers found.
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Pay Close Attention to Nylon Halters, Leads During Post-Strangles Cleaning
The rougher surface of the nylon/polyester material may make these halters more amenable to S. equi survival in the presence of cleaning and sanitation compared to other materials. | Photo: iStock
After a strangles outbreak, it’s time to clean. But what exactly does that entail? According to Swedish researchers, a good wipe-down with disinfectant might work well on wood, concrete, and plastic. Nylon, though, appears to be a comfortable place for the disease’s causative bacteria, Streptococcus equi, to hang out. And even most warm washes and tumble dries in the washing machine won’t kill the bacteria on your nylon halters and leadlines.

“The rougher surface of the polyester material may make the polyester halters more amenable to S. equi survival in the presence of cleaning and sanitation compared to the others,” said Anneli Rydén, PhD candidate, a veterinary nurse and lecturer in veterinary nursing in the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, in Uppsala. “Hence, it appears that ensuring a washing temperature of (at least) 60°C (140°F) is necessary to eliminate live S. equi in fabrics such as polyesters.”

In their study, Rydén and her fellow researchers tested barn equipment in a laboratory setting, before and after subjecting items to various cleaning techniques. They experimentally contaminated wood, plastic, and concrete samples, as well as leather and nylon halters and leather gloves, with S. equi. They allowed the bacteria to grow for four days and then cleaned half the equipment. The other half they left uncleaned as a control for comparison.

Wiping down the wood, plastic, and concrete with soap, water, and a basic disinfectant eliminated all the bacteria, Rydén said. The untreated surfaces had just as high a level of S. equi contamination as before, even two days later

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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