Thursday, 26 February 2015 09:12

EquiSal’s pilot trial data suggests horses with a tapeworm burden can be retested

equisal logo

EquiSal’s pilot trial data suggests horses with a tapeworm burden can be retested 2 - 3 months after worming to check the tapeworm burden status

EquiSal Tapeworm is the new saliva test to diagnose tapeworm burdens in horses.  The test wasdeveloped by a team of experienced scientists, one of whom was an inventor of the Clear Blue pregnancy test. The EquiSal Tapeworm Test measures tapeworm-specific antibodies in saliva and has been proven to have both high sensitivity and high specificity to determine whether a horse has a tapeworm burden or not.  

If a horse is diagnosed with a borderline or moderate/high burden, then tapeworm treatment is recommended. A follow-up test after a few months to confirm that the treatment has been effective would be beneficial and would enable horse ownersto feel more confident in theirtapeworm control programmes.But it only makes sense to repeat the Equisal test if the salivary antibody levels drop quickly after effective tapeworm treatment.  

In preparation for a full-scale trial, Austin Davis Biologics recently carried out a smalltrial in which EquiSal Tapeworm testing was carried out on horses every 2 weeks following worming treatment for tapeworm. Data collected from this trial has shown that, in most cases, substantial reduction in tapeworm-specific antibodies was seen within 2-3 weeks following treatment. In one horse, the antibody levels took longer to reach low burden status,but even so, the antibody levels started dropping straight away after worming.

It is important to understand that the picture is complicated if the horse becomes reinfected by tapeworm larvae after worming treatment. Tapeworm reinfection was seen in some horses in the trial. In a poorly managed paddock reinfection can obviously happen very easily. But, given that the tapeworm’s life cycle requires an intermediate host (an oribatid mite), even well managed paddocks containing horses with high tapeworm burdens could harbour infected oribatid mites within the grass. This means that there is still a reinfection risk after worming for horses grazing in these circumstances too. The end goal is, of course, to break the tapeworm’s life cycle and prevent horses becoming infected. Horses diagnosed as having a low burden at the start of the trial maintained low burden status throughout the trial.

Austin Davis Biologics are planning the larger trial for later this year. The number of participants will be sufficient to ensure meaningful, statistically significant results, and all the data gathered will be subject to full analysis.

EquiSal’s current testing recommendations:

•The first EquiSal test should be carried out 4 months after the last worming treatment for tapeworm

•Routine testing should then be carried out every 6 months

•If a horse has a borderline or moderate/high diagnosis, a retest can be carried out 2 to 3 months after worming treatment for tapeworm.