Researchers Develop Saliva-Based Equine Tapeworm Test

By Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA
In the global fight against parasite resistance to deworming medications, a group of researchers in the United Kingdom has recently developed a more practical test for the equine tapeworm. Because tapeworm infestations are difficult to detect in feces, veterinarians’ preferred testing method has been blood testing. But that could be changing. A new, reliable saliva test is now making its appearance on European markets and could be available in the United States in 2017, researchers said.

The new saliva test allows owners to take samples themselves, said Corrine Austin, PhD, of Austin Davis Biologics Ltd, in Great Addington, U.K. This could encourage the use of a targeted deworming program that can help prevent parasite resistance.

“A limited number of drugs are available for treating equine helminths (worms) and, with no new chemical classes (drugs) in development, care must be taken to preserve the efficacy of the currently effective anthelmintics,” Austin said. “The use of accurate diagnostic tests to detect tapeworm burdens and, hence, inform treatment, will reduce the use of anti-tapeworm anthelmintics. And that could therefore reduce the risk for resistance emergence.”

The level of resistance in tapeworms to current anthelmintics is unknown. “Although resistance has yet to be documented for tapeworms, the risk is significantly increased with continued ‘blanket’ use of anti-tapeworm anthelmintics,” said Austin.

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