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Warning over tapeworm threat

New study shows that 69% of horses are at risk of tapeworm infestation

Horse owners are failing to catch the worm say vets who claim that inadequate control programmes that haveleft tapeworm prevalent.

The worm is picked up off the pasture in the form of forage mites which then carry the eggs to the horse, and infest the small and large intestine.

Vet Keith Chandler, a lecturer in equine science at the University of Edinburgh, said studies now showed tapeworm to be a cause of one in five serious cases of colic through ileal impaction.

He said that tapeworm infestation was difficult to diagnose but an estimated 69% of horses are playing host to this potential killer.

Confusion over when and how to worm may have left animals more vulnerable to the tapeworm which is not susceptible to broad spectrum wormers.

Keith said: “There has been a lot of confusion in the past with worming programmes. Now horse owners are generally giving wormers effectively but still neglecting to treat for tapeworm.”

He said that new research had signalled both its danger and prevalence.

Speaking at the launch of Equitape a new product containing Praziquantel being marketed by Fort Dodge specifically to target tapeworms, Keith said: “The danger posed to horses by tapeworm infections should not be underestimated. Tapeworm infections can be a main contributor to the development of colic and potentially life-threatening perforation of the intestine.”

Fort Dodge joins Virbac as the other company now marketing a Praziquantel based product. Praziquantel has been used for treating both humansand dogs for a number of years but has only recently been licensed for use in horses.

Recommending that horse owners dose their horses for tapeworm twice a year, in spring and autumn, equine business manager at Fort Dodge, Helen Barnes said the technology was now available to target this “growing menace in horses”.

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