Equisal Tapeworm Test
The EquiSal Tapeworm Test is a revolutionary HORSE SALIVA test to tell whether your horse has tapeworm. Over the last two years the EquiSal team, consisting of 4 experienced scientists (one of whom was an inventor of the Clear Blue pregnancy test) have developed this innovative test for tapeworm using horse saliva that you collect yourselves, without the need for a vet. The test measures antibody in saliva which is specific to tapeworm, using a combination of two laboratory tests (called ELISAs). Each sample is analysed under very carefully defined conditions to account for variations in saliva flow and impacts of diet. The saliva samples are handled by an automated liquid handing system to ensure very high accuracy, as well as high-fidelity sample tracking throughout the test procedure. A complex algorithm is applied to integrate and de-convolute data from the two different tests to deliver an EquiSal diagnosis of tapeworm burden.
How accurate is the EquiSal Tapeworm Test?
The EquiSal Tapeworm Test was proven to be accurate by testing saliva samples taken from horses in which the number of tapeworms present had been counted at post-mortem. The test identifies horses with a low burden, a borderline result or a moderate/high burden, and treatment is recommended for any borderline or moderate/high results. 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 that were identified with more than one tapeworm at post-mortem were correctly identified. The remaining few were diagnosed as being negative but these horses had burdens considered by vets to be mild, amounting to no more than 20 tapeworms. Experts consider that a burden of up to 20 tapeworms is not pathogenic (capable of producing disease). This is similar to the current guidelines for redworm faecal egg counts (FEC), where less than 200 eggs/gram is not considered pathogenic.
This means that the EquiSal Tapeworm Test can be relied upon to:
· correctly identify the vast majority of horses with a moderate/high burden
· correctly identify all horses with pathogenic burdens
The revolutionary EquiSal Tapeworm Test ensures that treatment is recommended where needed.
How many horses have a tapeworm burden?
We have gathered local epidemiology information (tapeworm burdens local to our laboratory) during our research on the EquiSal Tapeworm Test. We tested horses local to our laboratory with the help of Swanspool Equine Vets. Of all the horses tested, only 12% carried a tapeworm burden that needed treatment! This finding suggests that a massive 88% of these horses were receiving routine tapeworm treatment when they did not need it. Most of the horses we tested were on yards with good field management and making use of faecal egg counts for well-planned, targeted worming protocols. We will be continuously updating these figures as we start to run the testing service.
How long after worming can we test?
We recommend that a horse has not been wormed for 4 months before testing with the EquiSal Tapeworm Test. This is similar to faecal egg counts, where, for example, you should not worm with Equest for 13 weeks prior to carrying out a faecal egg count. With faecal egg counts, if there is a worm burden, you can carry out a faecal egg count reduction test to check whether the worming has been effective. We hope to offer a similar worming efficiency service and are investigating this in detail to enable us to offer the best advice. Our early research indicates that salivary tapeworm-specific antibody levels are very low 2-3 months after worming, therefore re-testing at this time would confirm whether the worming strategy was successful. Profiles from various horses show reduction of salivary tapeworm-specific antibody levels quite soon after worming, so it may be possible in the future to determine relatively quickly if the wormer is working or if there is resistance or under-dosing.
How often should we do the EquiSal Tapeworm Test?
We recommend that you test your horse twice a year for tapeworm. The best time to do the test is in late winter/early spring and autumn/early winter, as these are considered to be the ideal times of year to worm for tapeworm.