Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Insect-Borne Illnesses and Horses

Insect-Borne Diseases

  It's summer, and bugs, ranging from flies to mosquitoes, can be found everywhere. Besides being irritating for both you and your horse, they can carry all manners of diseases. Fortunately, horses are vaccinated against Equine encephalitis and West Nile Virus, two of the most common ones for mosquitoes to spread.

 Flies, too, can spread diseases. Among them are Equine infectious anemia(similar to HIV), which causes the body to waste away. Horses are vaccinated against EIA and are annually tested(Coggins test).

 Furthermore, flies can carry parasites. Bot flies lay their yellow eggs on a horse's leg, where he is most likely to lick them off, continuing their life cycle in the horse's stomach. Black flies spread onchocerca cervicals, a hair-loss causing parasite.If Onchocerca spreads to the eye, it can cause anterior uveitis, also known as moon blindness. Face flies are known to transmit thelazia and stable flies(habronema) lay larvae in the horse's eyes and mouth, causing ulcers. Another fly, the warble fly(hypoderma), cause swollen nodules. Warble flies usually go for cattle, so check horses that are pastured near cows often.

 Fortunately, if a horse gets any of these parasites, they can just be dewormed by your vet.

 Some biting flies can carry pigeon fever, a disease found in hot, dry climates. Pigeon fever causes swelling in the abdomen and chest. It comes from the bacteria Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. Unfortunately, a vaccine is not yet available, but scientists are currently studying one.

 Another common disease-causing insect is the tick, which is known for causing ehrlichiosis, Lyme, and piroplasmosis. Deer ticks most commonly cause Lyme since the carry the organism know as Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme commonly causes shifting lameness, arthritis, stiffness, muscle pain, fever, behavioral changes, uveitis, weight loss, and neurological problems. Blood tests can identify what sort of treatment is necessary.

Fly sheets can minimize the number of flies that land
on your horse(credit).
 Insect Repellant

 There are many essential oils that can repel insects, including ticks, and boost the horse's immune system to decrease his chances of developing Lyme. Try anti-viral, anti-infectious, immune-system boosting oils. Many people recommend using pure, therapeutic grade essential oils. The more drops of oil you use, the better because you may need something stronger for horses, but keep in mind that some of these oils can burn if you use too much. I recommend putting several drops of the following into a spritz bottle filled with clean water(leave a little bit of room):

  • Geranium has been to repel insects and help good for skin problems
  • Palo Santo is said to be very effective in removing ticks.
  • Rosewood oil is used for fungal skin conditions, infections, and works well against parasites.
  • Thyme is anti-fungal, anti-infectious, and anti-viral. It is used to prevent infection and boost the immune system. be warned, though, that Thyme is strong, so be careful using it undiluted.
  • Myrrh is said to be anti-infectious, anti-parasitic, and antiseptic. It is commonly used for ticks.
  • Peppermint is also said to work well against ticks.

Directions: Spray on your horse at least once a day, especially before you let him out. The more often you spray, the better.

Tick Removal Regimen

Never pull a tick off the horse. A good tick-fighting oil is said to be Palo Santo, so put a drop of pure oil on a tick and wait for it to let go. Afterwards, spray the wound with the insect repellant I talked about earlier to prevent infection. Tea tree is known to work great to prevent infection.

Prevention is the Best 

  Grooming your horse daily is a good way to watch for ticks and keep insects away. Also, keeping the stable and paddock area clean can reduce the number of insects that pester you and your horse.


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  2. Thanks for sharing on the HomeAcre Hop. I've chosen this as one of my features for the week. Make sure to come back tomorrow and join us and grab your button:


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