Horse owners are being urged to stay on top of pinworms, amid evidence that infections by the parasite are becoming more common and more stubborn.
Animal health company Zoetis says owners need to remember to address this itchy pest as a part of their overall worm control programme.
Pinworm cases are now being reported more frequently in all horse age groups rather than just youngsters.
Although generally not considered to be as harmful as some other parasites, pinworms can prove to be a considerable irritation for both horse and owner as they can cause severe itching and subsequent rubbing.
Pinworm eggs are laid around the horse’s anus in a sticky substance, which is an irritant that causes itching and can trigger tail rubbing.
When a horse scratches itself, residues of this sticky substance can be left on surfaces such as fences or stable walls, which can lead to the spread of infection.
Contaminated feed and water bowls can also present a problem if they are shared around the yard.
Adult worms may be seen with the naked eye, or a skin scrape or sticky tape test may be carried out by a vet in the area around the anus.
Although a faecal worm egg count may show pinworm eggs it is not particularly reliable for this parasite.
It is thought that the changing behaviour of pinworms may be giving rise to increasing and more stubborn infections.
Not only has a shortened time between infection and egg production been reported, but the parasite also appears to be adapting immunologically, Zoetis says.
Traditionally, pinworm was thought to be specific to young horses, with older horses appearing to acquire a degree of natural immunity, but infections are now being seen regularly in older horses.
One study reported that four out of eight horses with pinworm were 17 years or older.
“Good stable and horse hygiene are imperative for the management of pinworm,” says veterinarian Wendy Talbot, with Zoetis.
“It’s crucial to break the life cycle of the worms.
“Walls, fence posts and any surface that may have been contaminated should be scrubbed using a hard-wire brush and a non-toxic disinfectant and feed and water sources should be thoroughly cleaned out, to prevent re-infection.
“In addition, the area around the horses tail and anus should be washed with an appropriate cleanser to remove the eggs and soothe the area.
“If you think your horse may be suffering from pinworm it’s important to talk to your vet to discuss the best worming programme.”
Zoetis is offering a new app called Stable Mate, for horse owners to manager their equine healthcare regime, including worming. It also provides handy healthcare advice. It is available from the iPhone App Store and Google Play Store: text Stable Mate to 80800 to download.
More information: www.wormingyourhorse.info.
Here’s the rub about pinworms: http://horsetalk.co.nz/2012/11/15/heres-the-rub-about-pinworms/#axzz2WzwOEVH9.