EQUUS - - Medical Front -

A saliva test that can de­ter­mine a horse’s tape­worm bur­den is now avail­able in the United States. De­vel­oped by re­searchers with Austin Davis Bi­o­log­ics in Eng­land, the EquiSal Tape­worm test has been mar­keted in the United King­dom for three years.

Tape­worms are a fairly com­mon in­testi­nal par­a­site that can cause un­thrifti­ness, di­ar­rhea and colic. They are dif­fi­cult to de­tect us­ing standard fe­cal egg counts, so pre­vi­ously the most re­li­able method of iden­ti­fy­ing them was a blood test to mea­sure an­ti­bod­ies spe­cific to tape­worms.

EquiSal Tape­worm works by iden­ti­fy­ing lev­els of tape­worm-spe­cific an­ti­bod­ies in a horse’s saliva. To eval­u­ate the ef­fi­cacy of the new test, re­searchers used it to an­a­lyze the saliva from 104 horses, then com­pared the re­sults to blood tests and vis­ual in­spec­tions of each horse’s in­testi­nal tract (see “An Eas­ier Test for Tape­worms,” Med­i­cal Front, EQUUS 469). Not only was the saliva test just as ac­cu­rate as the blood test at pre­dict­ing the pres­ence of tape­worms, it was also able to pre­dict the sever­ity of the

in­fes­ta­tion. A higher saliva score in­di­cated that the horse was car­ry­ing a larger num­ber of these par­a­sites.

EquiSal Tape­worm is now be­ing of­fered for sale in the United States through Horse­men’s Lab­o­ra­tory, a com­pany that also of­fers a fe­cal egg count ser­vice. The test kit in­cludes a spe­cially de­signed swab, which horse own­ers can use to col­lect a saliva sam­ple. The swab is then placed in a tube con­tain­ing a spe­cial preser­va­tive and sent back to Horse­men’s Lab­o­ra­tory, which sends them on to Austin Davis Bi­o­log­ics

for test­ing. Re­sults are emailed back to horse own­ers along with rec­om­men­da­tions about de­worm­ing.

Austin Davis Bi­o­log­ics says the test kits will cost about $40, which will in­clude all as­so­ci­ated fees for ship­ping and test­ing. The com­pany also ex­pects the kits will soon be avail­able through vet­eri­nary prac­tices and vet­eri­nary phar­ma­cies in the United States. They rec­om­mend test­ing each horse twice per year prior to ad­min­is­ter­ing de­worm­ers.

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