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New Saliva Test under Development to Diagnose Equine Encysted Small Strongyle Infection

Equine saliva test

Scientists at Moredun are currently developing a novel diagnostic blood test for the assessment of encysted small strongyle larval burdens in horses. The diagnostic test detects antibodies to larval cyathostomins encysted in the gut wall of infected horses. Moredun has now entered into a collaboration with Austin Davis Biologics (service providers of EquiSal Tapeworm testing) to develop the test for use with saliva samples. If successful, this would simplify the sample collection process for horse owners, enabling them to take samples directly from their horses for analysis.

Small strongyles (also known as cyathostomins), are a group of parasites commonly found in the gut of grazing horses. Generally, the higher the worm burden, the higher the risk of clinical disease in the horse. The effects of infection with these worms range from a dull coat and weight loss to colic, severe diarrhoea and death.The immature stages (larvae) play an important role in these disease syndromes. Direct methods for the detection of these immature states do not exist, preventing specific diagnosis and targeted treatment of the infection.

For the early stages of this collaborative project, scientists are working with equine veterinary practices to collect matched samples of blood and saliva and, after initial development, saliva test results will be compared with the previously validated blood test.

Group Leader, Professor Jacqui Matthews, who is developing the diagnostic blood test at Moredun commented:

“We are delighted to collaborate with Austin Davis Biologics to further develop this test; the company has significant experience in the development of saliva-based tests for the equine market.”

Dr Corrine Austin, of Austin Davis Biologics said:

“We are very pleased to be working with Moredun on this exciting new project. A saliva test for encysted cyathostomins will provide horse owners, equine veterinarians and animal medicines advisors with a new tool to target the treatment of cyathostomin infections in horses.”

Moredun are grateful to the Horserace Betting Levy Board and The Horse Trust for supporting the development of this test.  For further information about this work please contact Jacqui Matthews ([email protected]) or Rhona MacDonald ([email protected]).