A new test for tapeworm is now available to horse owners through Westgate Laboratories who specialise in postal worm counts.

Previously the only reliable way to test for tapeworm has been via blood taken by a vet, but this new test is able to determine tapeworm burden from a sample of the horse's saliva.

It is hoped this new development will make routine tapeworm testing much easier for owners, improving horse health 
and enabling targeted worming to help combat drug resistance. 

To complete the new EquiSal test, a sample of the horse’s saliva is taken using a specially developed swab. This is sent off to the EquiSal laboratory where the level of tapeworm-specific antibodies is analysed to give an accurate indication of the tapeworm burden in the horse. In scientific terms, the EquiSal Tapeworm Test has both high sensitivity and specificity, which is important for correctly identifying horses with tapeworm burdens. 

Commenting on the new test, David Booth, Managing director at Westgate Laboratories said: 

“We are very excited about this development and are delighted to be working with Austin Davis Biologics to bring the test to horse owners. This will revolutionise the way we worm for tapeworm in horses. Worm counts and saliva testing must now become the core of everyone’s worming programme if we are to preserve the few effective wormers we have left”. 

Dr Corrine Austin, director at Austin Davis Biologics Ltd, reported

“From our experience so far, it appears that 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. Many animals are being over-wormed for tapeworm when routine dosing strategies are used. Routine dosing increases the speed at which worms gain resistance, and with only two drugs licenced for tapeworm in horses, this should be a major concern to horse owners. We are very pleased to be partnering with Westgate Laboratories and we are looking forward to providing a comprehensive worm control programme together”. 

An EquiSal Tapeworm Test kit costs £17.95 per horse and contains everything neeeded to take the test including laboratory processing and the customary help and advice from Westgate Laboratories. To order Tel: 01670 791994 or buy online www.westgatelabs.co.uk . Current advice is to test twice a year at six monthly intervals and a minimum of four months after the last tapeworm dosing.