13.09.2014
Advertise hereRetinal vein occlusion (Thrombosis, Retinal Vein)Blockage of the retinal vein. Before taking white willow devil’s Nail changes alone may not be diagnostic but greater than 20 pits is suggestive and more than 60 can be diagnostic of psoriatic arthritis. Barbara suffered from arthritis in her knees and back with accompanying nerve involvement in her feet. Vancouver Arthritis Walk Chair Tara Manriquez thanks our great Team Captains for their ahrd work and support. Therefore you should understand that gout is often considered a synonym or a condition closely related to the following: Acute Gouty Arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment with RITUXAN (rituximab) a prescription medicine used in adults with methotrexate to reduce the signs and symptoms of moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Less than 12 months ago, I wrote about neck threadworms and how they might be behind many horses’ frantic itching. Itchy horses, it seems, are a perennial worry for thousands if not hundreds of thousands of horse owners (that’s counting the many who haven’t read the article).
At time of writing, it’s Spring in the northern hemisphere, and the reader numbers are building up again. And the more I think about the neck threadworm issue, and read comments under the articles, the more I’m scratching my head. This would be welcome news to the World Health Organization, I’m sure, as decades of research have yet to find a chemical that successfully infiltrates the central nervous system of the adult Onchocerca Volvulus (the human version of the parasite, which currently affects an estimated 18 million people throughout Africa, Latin America and the Yemen) and eliminates it.
This is something we’re especially aware of here in Australia, where geographical isolation has led to the evolution of some remarkable indigenous species, found nowhere else in the world.
If we consider the possibility of different culicoides acting as vectors, then other differences come into consideration as well. European studies into Sweet Itch (Summer Itch, Queensland Itch) have shown that different types of biting midge have a preference for different parts of the horse’s body. It doesn’t stop there: studies of cattle in Darwin (a hotbed for livestock research due to its tropical climate) have revealed the presence of more than one type of Onchocerca, with at least two species of the parasite being found in the ‘wrong’ animal. Another point that isn’t clearly answered by existing research is how much the microfilariae travel.
At the very least, we can say that this is problem isn’t confined to the underside of the horse.
If your horse has the Itch, Queensland Itch, Sweet Itch, Summer Itch, Summer Sores… sometimes it’s really neck threadworms. Whatever the country, whatever the culicoid species, the horse that’s going insane with itchiness can only ever scratch the parts that it can reach.
As the immune system goes into stratospheric hypersensitivity, intense itching can become an all-over sensation. It entirely makes sense that the more advanced cases, with all over itching and rubbed patches, are more likely to be seen by vets, and to make it into veterinary research. For the horse owner, just one thing is clear, and that is that we have a horse being driven mad by itching.
One thing that’s become really, really clear from responses to the first article is that onchercerciasis is a problem for horses worldwide. Research has shown the presence of neck threadworms in horses in such non-tropical countries as Canada, the UK and Poland. Astonishingly, more than one person has previously mentioned neck threadworms to their vet, only to have it dismissed out of hand, because “that’s not a problem around here”. Despite this, some of those same horse owners have started treating their horses and are already some way down the road to reducing the larval population and are resolving the issue. This isn’t to say that all itching is caused by the larval stages of Onchocerca cervicalis. It’s baffling that this problem has ceased being common knowledge and so often slips under the radar. Moving on from that point , it’s important that you establish a strategy for dealing with the ongoing presence of the neck threadworms in future months and years. At different times of the year, the microfilariae being introduced to your horse will vary in numbers, depending on the level of culicoid flies around.
As the warmer months are going to see faster increases of the population, it makes sense to worm more frequently in Spring and Summer.
Some owners feel that monthly worming during Spring and Summer is sufficient to interrupt the pre-adult lifecycle.
Once the microfilariae numbers are down, possibly after the first year, some owners come down to 6-weekly and 8-weekly wormings.
The longer your horse has been living with neck threadworms, the longer it’s likely to take. While neck threadworms can make life highly unpleasant for your horse, encysted small strongyles can kill him or her if they suddenly erupt. The best approach is to address the intestinal worms before moving onto the neck threadworms. In my region, Strategy is also valuable in addressing pinworms, which are resistant to many other products. If you’re following a heavy worming schedule, you should also be supporting your horse’s gut, which is going to be taking a chemical hammering. The best place to start is with probiotics, either added to the feed or administered through a plunger tube (although your horse may be a little off plungers at the moment…). Using probiotics means that in supporting your horse’s intestinal function during worming, you will also be supporting your horse’s immune system.
Some owners are saying that their horses, which have had all the signs of neck threadworms, have also started itching on the tail head and along the back. The horse reacting to the saliva of all culicoid flies, having become hypersensitive to microfilariae that have entered their current life stage within the flies’ saliva. It’s worth noting that there are two different types of Onchocerca worms also affecting horses and donkeys, and that these cause problems in other areas of the body. Itching on the legs can be due to Onchocerca reticulata, as the adult worms are found in the connective tissue of the flexor tendons and suspensory ligament of the fetlock, mostly in the forelimbs. Internal parasites such as Onchocerca cervicalis… may also cause pruritus and in the case of O. The thing is, whether this supposition is right or wrong, you can do no wrong by managing your horse as if it has both neck threadworms and the Itch. I’m not going to go into lots of detail as to what you can do, but here, in no particular order, is a starter list.
At the heavier end, a short course of glucocorticoid therapy (ie, steroids) will reduce the inflammatory response.
Antihistamine preparations work on the chemical response, but may lead to occasional behavioral changes or even have a sedative effect. Supplementing your horse’s diet with Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) – Omega 3s – has been shown to reduce insect hypersensitivity. Some people are using a combination of chondroitin sulphate, spirulina, and ground linseed (flax) in the daily diet, with some success.
Probiotics also help to boost the immune system by improving gut function, as we saw earlier.
External and topical protection can help to keep the culicoid flies at bay: fly rugs, wipe-on insecticides, and oil-based creams and lotions, especially those containing camphor, menthol or thymol, act as barriers while providing relief and repelling flies.
If you stable your horse, try to do so between 4pm and 8am, when the biting flies are most active in subtropical and tropical zones.
Bathing in dermatological shampoos containing chlorhexidine gluconate bring relief while working against localized bacterial infection. Ultimately, the line you take when tackling neck threadworms in your horse is going to be an individual one. Look on any ivermectin or moxidectin-based wormer packet and you’ll see a long list of parasites. Also known as neck threadworms, these critters vary in length from 6cm to 30cm (think the length of a regular ruler).
Your horse only has neck threadworms, in which case they’re probably rubbing along the mane and particularly the base of mane, around the neck and face, under the chest and down the ventral line (under the belly), but not on the tail head – or at least, relatively little. Neck threadworms have a distinctive life cycle, but as is so often the case, the problem presents in  different ways, depending on the individual.
I’ve also seen it manifest as a new, previously unseen itchy and scurfy patch on the lower part of the neck of a horse who’d never been itchy. These are the classic early signs, usually recognised by the owner only through miserable hindsight.
The base of the mane, just in front of the withers, seems to be party central where neck threadworms are concerned. Consider this: in humans, a slightly different strain of Onchocerca infestation is known as River Blindness.
Please remember this detail when you’re deciding whether to worm for neck threadworms or not. At this point, our good friends the culicoid flies make a contribution, by biting the horse and ingesting a good number of microfilariae along with blood.


Back in a host horse, the larvae then make their way via the bloodstream to the connective tissue of the nuchal ligament, which runs along the crest of the neck.
No matter where the adult worms settle, the itchiness is caused by the microfilariae that aren’t lucky enough to be consumed by a fly and are instead left to die off. Unsurprisingly, horses with most lesions have higher microfilariae counts – it’s a perfect ascending spiral of parasite-induced discomfort.
The microfilariae can be identified in the living horse through a biopsy of the nuchal ligament. The slightly better news it that the worms are so fine and the lumps so small that it doesn’t seem to affect the function of the ligament, which is tough and fundamentally taut anyway. In horses less than 5yo, the parasites can be present but there’s relatively little immunological response.
To address the initial outbreak, the advice ‘out in the field’ is to use a regular dosage of an ivermectin-based wormer, multiple times until symptoms subside.
I’ve also read forum posts by US horse owners stating that a double dosage at fortnightly intervals is the most effective treatment. I’ve read that an injection of ivermectin can be more effective, with off-label use of a product such as Dectomax being recommended as the heavy artillery when all else has failed. Others say every 3 months, timed in accordance with the larval lifecycle, which is 4 to 5 months. In humid sub-tropical zones, where all parasite burdens are dramatically higher, I’ve heard of people doing it as frequently as once a month. Beyond that, you’re back to the barrier treatments – fly rugs, lotions and potions to deflect the flies and to insulate the skin, lotions to soften the skin and heal the lesions, fly screens on shelters during the day, etc. If we don’t address the problem one way or another, we have very itchy horses, for their entire lives. Researchers say that the calcification in the ligaments has no effect, but you’ve got to wonder. On the plus side, Onchocerciasis hasn’t been found to have any association with fistulous withers. Onchocerciasis is so often masked by the itch that awareness, even in the regions where it’s rife, is low.
And in those same regions, there are so many highly prevalent and deadly parasites – the worms that cause colic, that drag down the horse’s condition, that can kill through spontaneous mass emergence from encysted larval stages – that the neck threadworm larvae simply doesn’t get much of a look-in. Please feel to share the link to this page – and feel very free to enter your comments at the bottom of this page. Onchocerca in Horses from Western Canada and the Northwestern United States: An Abattoir Survey of the Prevalence of Infection, L Polley.
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I’m not a vet and, although I read as many papers as possible and discuss my thoughts with research vets before I post my blog articles, my assertions, which are based on observations and backed up with research, have still tickled the inside of a few noses.
Filarial nematode parasites are a complex life form so fundamentally different to those within our normal understanding. The horse, the neck threadworms, and the biting midge (culicoid fly) that does the middle man part. There are vets working for manufacturers of worming products who swear that their product can bump off the adult neck threadworms. The problem, apparently, is that their horses don’t have the ‘typical’ itching along the ventral line, ie, the underside of the neck and belly. Different flies are active in different areas and create different patterns of transmission? If the adult worms are living in the nuchal ligament, that is where they give birth to zillions of microfilariae. Most horses can easily scratch their toplines on branches and fences, whereas far fewer are seen scratching their bellies on the ground.
Not the horse… An owner who notices their horse scratching its mane and tail head is way less likely to contact a vet than the owner who sees bald, scratched patches on their horse’s underside. For making it a more widely known issue, the forum members of The Chronicle of the Horse website must take credit (and I recommend anyone with specific questions about their horse to head over there). Horses travel within countries and internationally – the larvae can then be transmitted to new host horses in the destination region, providing there are enough local culicoid flies to transmit them. In fact, the UK research was conducted in the early 1900s, showing that air transport of horses has little to do with it and that this parasite has been in cooler climes for a long time. Some people have battled their horses’ itch, often so bad that it prevents their horses from being ridden, for a decade or more.
This means that with evenly spaced wormings, you’re going to have different results at different times. The microfilariae are picked up from a horse by the biting fly, after which they develop in the fly for 15-21 days (research seems to differ on this point). All you can do is observe your horse and keep at it until you see a significantly reduced reaction in terms of itching. And the more tropical and humid your regional climate, the more biting flies there are going to be. The reason is that this is the only wormer to hit Onchocerca microfilariae AND encysted small strongyles.
None of us would wish to be following such a rigorous worming schedule if we had the option, so we must do our best to mitigate any negative effects. Various plant sources are ‘mucilages’, meaning that when mixed with water, they form a slippery substance that lines and soothes the intestine.
Once your horse has started reacting to Onchocerca microfilariae, they may develop The Itch – aka Queensland, Summer or Sweet Itch (take your pick). When the allergen is the saliva of the culicoid flies, the outcome is an inflammatory response. Some owners have used oral prednisolone – Preddy®-granules –  to support their horses during the initial stages of ivermectin worming. This can be a shop-bought product, or cold pressed linseed oil, or cod liver oil added to the feed.
This doesn’t mean using an off-the-shelf standard product, although that is better than none. Fans will help circulate air and discourage flies, while mosquito netting on windows will also help. Tucked in neatly at the end – it’s nearly always at the end – you’ll see the words Onchocerca Microfilariae, otherwise known as neck threadworms. It runs the full length of the neck, from poll to withers, with a flat ligament part connecting with the cervical vertebrae. For many they’re not a problem, but some horses develop a reaction to their microscopic larvae (the microfilariae).
One reason these worms get relatively little attention is that they never live in the intestines. Unfortunately for those of us who keep horses in warmer, humid climates, it’s more frequent here.
If your horse is itchy, something different could be happening to what you think is happening.
And I’ve heard of a local horse who suddenly started furiously itching his face, bang in the middle of the forehead, to the point that it bled.


Other signs include small lumps forming along the underside of the horse and on its neck and face, weeping spots, and a scaly crest to an area of the mane through rubbing. They’re among the shapeshifters of the parasitic worm world, developing through several larval stages before reaching adulthood. The more the horse itches and breaks the skin, the more the flies will bite exactly where the microfilariae are located, before transporting them to the same or another horse, to start all over again. Published veterinary research shows you won’t get any indication within 34 days of worming, so the timing is critical. If the microfilariae are present, the horse usually responds with intense itching – and I mean, manically intense, demented itching – around 48 to 72 hours after worming. What often happens is that the horse’s body throws down calcification around the adult worms in an attempt to isolate the foreign body.
So if your horse has suddenly developed itchiness at the age of 5 or 6, you could be looking at the presence of this parasite. That’s good, as it means you can address the neck threadworms, while covering your horse for encysted strongyles too (ivermectin wormers don’t). And don’t forget about boosting your horse’s immune system generally through sound nutritional approaches.
There’s no guarantee that those scientists had a highly developed understanding of equine biomechanics. Just that these parasites may be involved and can be a contributory factor in a heightened immunological response that leads to Queensland itch (or sweet itch, or whatever you know it as). This is to inform you through this disclaimer that the information we have provided in this website has solely been intended to make you aware of the products.
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It has now had well over 60,000 visitors from all over the world and is still climbing steadily. They rely on more than one host and undergo several stages in their development – they make the caterpillar to butterfly transformation look unambitious. The microfilariae leave the horse, courtesy of the midge, get flown around, travel through the midge’s body parts and enter different larval stages, and are then returned to the horse when the midge returns to ingest blood.
This means that a lot of information that finds its way into books and training is already reasonably dated, and not exactly far ranging.
Some flies must bite in this area in order to ingest the microfilariae and take off with them. Horses will always break the skin in any area that they scratch in earnest, and consequently the blood attracts the biting midges to that area.
I guess my post succeeded in bringing the available information together in one place – in that it simply reflected my own experience of researching the subject on behalf of my newly itchy, increasingly unhappy horse.
As another reader pointed out, warmer and wetter winter and summers are giving the flies a better hit at it than ever before.
They have struggled with different diagnoses, with various medications, with investigations into suspected colon disorders and testing for allergen sensitivities, all to no avail. And then even when they die, they remain present, entombed in a small calcified lump in the ligament. It’s then more likely that pathogens (‘bad bacteria’) will proliferate, potentially leading to intestinal inflammation and diarrhoea. You can consider using aloe vera juice, slippery elm, marshmallow root, liquorice root and chia seeds.
If their system is reacting to the microscopic larvae carried in saliva, why not react to the saliva itself? It’s not good for pregnant mares, suspected or actual laminitics (steroids can trigger an onset) and horses with internal issues. Ideally, identify the deficiencies or imbalances in your horse’s forage and diet, and then supplement accordingly. Meanwhile, if you’re after specific advice for your individual horse, I recommend talking to the guys over at the Chronicle of the Horse forum.
The microscopic larval form live in the horse’s skin, mostly around the head, neck, shoulders, chest and underside of the belly.
The biting insect that serves as a carrier is the Culicoides fly, which is also connected to Queensland Itch (aka Sweet Itch, Summer Itch, etc.).
They live in clusters, which is why you may first notice patches of scurfy skin where the horse has started itching.
The adults live for around 10 years and in this time, the females release thousands of microfilariae (larvae) very year. He was definitely sore at the base of the neck, where the weeping eruptions came out, and didn’t want to be touched there. I know I do, but I realise that some people can’t abide the thought of chemical wormers, or their increased use.
One reason is that lower doses do not kill off enough larvae, allowing resistance to develop amongst those that remain. We hereby announce that no information provided in this website can be substituted with medical advice or physician consultation.
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Wormers are certainly tested as safe at higher dosages, but again, horses are individuals, so always check with your *equine* vet first. It may even be worth looking at the large bottles of liquid wormer used by studs for greater economy. A lot of the small amount of research available is over 20 years old and the knowledge base has since grown.
Don't solely rely on these herbal products for the "cure" of an ailment you are suffering from. When you use essential oil for arthritis at first you need to apply them often using many oils Arthritis and Rheumatism 65 (7): 1913-21. Foot pain in psoriatic arthritis (PsA) was predicted by synovitis erosion subluxation of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints obesity and female sex but unlike foot pain in rheumatoid arthritis it was not predicted by elevated plantar pressure according to Be sure to talk to your doctor about when the pain started when it feels better or worse how long it lasts Dislocation of the knee can occur when the ligaments are torn causing instability. It’s the die off that causes the itching, both during normal times and after treatment with ivermectin.
This is going to happen faster with horses that live in herds within a kilometer or so of standing water. That’s why owners often make the understandable assumption that their horse has Queensland itch or sweet itch. The content written on this website is a sole asset of the company and no one is permissible to use it in any way without the admin permission.
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