EquiSal tapeworm test receives further scientific validation
27 May 2016
peer reviewed by the Veterinary Clinical Pathology journal
Following publication of the EquiSal tapeworm test validation paper this week, we caught up with Dr Corrine Austin (pictured), one of the research partners behind the development of this fantastic product, to find out more about the test and how it is already revolutionising tapeworm control in horses.
Morning Corrine, can you tell us what the publication of the EquiSal validation paper means to you at Austin Davis Biologics?
We are absolutely delighted to have been published by the peer reviewed journal, Veterinary Clinical Pathology.
Publication in a peer reviewed journal means that subject specialists have fully reviewed, or refereed, the research paper. The publication of the EquiSal Tapeworm validation paper therefore demonstrates quality of science, reliability of the findings and that the research is of an accepted standard.
The paper details the methods we use for the EquiSal test and the full validation of the test against the blood test as well as post mortem samples where tapeworm were counted.
How reliable is the test?
The EquiSal test was developed by testing saliva samples taken from horses in which the number of tapeworms present had been counted at post-mortem. In scientific terms, the EquiSal Tapeworm Test has both high sensitivity and specificity, which is important for correctly identifying horses with tapeworm burdens.
The majority of horses with one or more tapeworms at post-mortem were correctly identified by the test. The remaining few were diagnosed as being low but these horses had burdens considered by experts to be not pathogenic – less than 20 tapeworms present (pathogenic meaning capable of producing disease). This is similar to the current guidelines for redworm faecal egg counts (FEC), where a result of less than 200 eggs/gram is not recommended for treatment.
It means that the EquiSal Tapeworm Test can be relied upon to correctly identify the majority of horses with a moderate/high burden and correctly identify all horses with pathogenic burdens.
I’ve heard that antibody tests can still show high even after treatment so can I trust the reading?
If you follow our testing recommendations, then diagnoses and worming recommendations provided by EquiSal Tapeworm can be trusted. Tapeworm-specific antibodies in saliva take a number of weeks to reduce following worming, but not as long as tapeworm-specific antibodies in blood. During 2015, saliva testing was carried out on a number of horses every two weeks following worming treatment for tapeworm. Three quarters of horses reduced to low within five weeks of worming for tapeworm, with the remaining horses taking a further six weeks to reduce to low. As a result of this study, we currently recommend that you wait for 4 months after the last tapeworm treatment before you carry out the first test.
Austin Davis Biologics is carrying out numerous trials to further research tapeworm burdens and tapeworm-specific antibodies in saliva, including a research project with the Royal Veterinary College to investigate the oribatid mite part of the horse tapeworm life cycle. This research is essential to fully understand and manage tapeworm burdens in horses.
My worming programme says tapeworm time is Spring and Autumn, is this when I should be testing?
As Spring and Autumn are traditionally the best times to treat for tapeworm, it makes sense to test your horse at these times before you consider using a wormer. If your horse is diagnosed with a borderline or moderate/high burden, then the recommendation is to worm, but if he/she is diagnosed as low, then there is no need to worm. Only 25% of horses tested so far require treatment for tapeworm – that’s a massive three quarters of horses that are diagnosed as low burden.
A study conducted with the help of Bransby Horses has been published on the EquiSal website to analyse targeted worming for tapeworm within their herds > more information
EquiSal test kits are available from in Westgate Labs' online shop; purchase from us to take advantage of this reliable test backed by Westgate's friendly veterinary approved advice from our team of SQPs.