A “revolutionary” tapeworm test using equine saliva has been launched, which developers claim will transform the way owners worm horses.

EquiSal Tapeworm — which is thought to be the first of its kind available — has been developed by scientists at Austin Davis Biologics at the company’s laboratory in Northamptonshire.

A horse’s saliva is taken by its owner using a specially developed swab, and sent off to the laboratory for analysis.

Previously the only other definitive test for tapeworm has been via blood taken by the vet.

But some vets are sceptical about the test, arguing there is not yet enough published evidence to substantiate it.

There are also concerns over whether the samples will survive effectively in the post, especially if there are delays. However the developers of the test are keen to allay any concerns, saying the saliva stability has been rigorously tested and proven stable for at least three weeks.

Dr Corrine Austin, director at Austin Davis Biologics, said that so far the number of horses with a tapeworm burden is lower than expected.

“Only 19% of horses tested had a tapeworm burden requiring treatment. This percentage is even lower in well managed yards,” she said.

Many animals are being over-wormed for tapeworm when routine dosing strategies are used,” she added.

Horse owners are advised to test twice a year at six-monthly intervals and a minimum of four months after the last tapeworm dosing.

An EquiSal Tapeworm test kit costs £17.95 per horse and includes all laboratory processing.

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First published in Horse & Hound magazine on Thursday 4 September