The Itchy Horse Season Is Back Again! Well it is that time of year again that horse owners on the coast dread, the weather warms up and the horse starts itching! Queensland itch or summer itch is beginning once more and it pays to get on top of it early. The primary skin reaction is due to an allergic reaction or hypersensitivity to the bites and insect saliva from small biting Culicoides brevitarsus, a common sand fly or midge, that lives in tropical and subtropical areas. The midges breed in moist, scrubby and bushy localities along the coastal fringe and inland in tropical areas with summer rainfall, or northern areas with monsoonal rains. Secondary skin problems take place due to the continuous itching that is caused by the allergic component of the condition. This leads to trauma, hair loss, irritation and thickening of the skin especially over the tail and mane. A single midge could be surprisingly nasty and bite a horse up to 100 times per hour. Management of Queensland itch is best achieved by mixing pesticides and good quality horse rugs. A full body horse rug and neck combination is helpful and in extremely sensitive, chronically affected horses, a covering over the ears and a fine fly mesh over the forehead is suggested. The Recovery® horse rug is a horse rug impregnated with insecticides and has shown to provide incredibly good relief. Alternative full body horse rugs, such as the DeMeulenkamp® rug is a nice horse product, with a flap to hide the belly it's given wonderful results. There are a several insecticidal and repellent lotions and creams containing permethrins. Midges seem to be reasonably resistant to repellents based on DEET and citronella. Washing a sensitized horse in a permethrin based wash, like Swift®, Permoxin® or Brute®, once a week can help control the biting and reduce the itch. Other alternative therapies, like Aloe Vera, Lavender, Sulphur paste, garlic, seaweed meal and rosehip appear to have inconsistent and usually limited results.
If a good horse rug and insecticides don’t control the itching, as a last resort highly allergic horses could be moved to drier or colder areas where there aren't any midges. Your vet could also provide immune suppressing drug, such as cortisone to relieve itching. This should be a last resort as using cortisone does have some risks. A possible future treatment is vaccination as a form of immunotherapy. Results at this time are variable, however research is continuing.
Horse supplements that improve skin health, such as Kohnke’s Own Energy Gold™, Kohnke’s Own Cell-®, Cell-®, Aussie Sport™, Palomino Gold™ for Palominos (and Donkey Supreme™ for Donkeys), might facilitate in improving the skin condition when utilized in conjunction with pesticides and rugging.
Published on Dec 13, 2010
Published on Dec 13, 2010
Well it is that time of year again that horse owners on the coast dread, the weather warms up and the horse starts itching! Queensland itch...