New blood test to diagnose small redworms in horses

Small strongyles (cyathostomins).

A blood test has been developed to diagnose small redworm (cyathostomin) infections in horses and is expected to be launched in Britain next year.

Developed by a group led by Professor Jacqui Matthews at the Midlothian based Moredun Research Institute (MRI), the test for small strongyles will be launched by Austin Davis Biologics Ltd (ADB), a science and technology company focused on biosciences. The company successfully developed and commercialised the EquiSal Tapeworm test, a saliva test for tapeworm diagnosis in horses.

Moredun Research Institute conducts scientific research on the infectious diseases of livestock.

In recent years, Austin Davis Biologics Ltd (ADB) has worked with the Matthews group to develop the blood test for commercialisation, and the new service provision represents the first phase.

Most of the funding for the research into the new test has come from The Horse Trust, with previous funding from the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

An encysted cyathostomin.
Encysted small redworm larvae in the gut wall of an infected horse. The worm is coloured red in the image and curls around on itself. © Moredun Research Institute

Dr Corrine Austin of ADB said the company was developing laboratory ELISA [enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay] kits to enable independent veterinary laboratories to conduct blood testing.

“These kits are expected to reach market during 2020.  We are thrilled to be making this test available to horse owners after extensive research has been conducted to achieve high accuracy,” Austin said.

“Research into the saliva-based test is ongoing and is expected to be commercialised several years from now.”

Professor Matthews said the test “fills an important gap in our diagnostic toolbox and will enable horse owners to work with their veterinarians in targeting anthelmintic treatments against cyathostomin infections and hence help protect these important medicines for the future”.

She was pleased to see the commercialisation of the test to support sustainable worm control in horses.

The commonest types of worms that infect equids are the small strongyles (also known as cyathostomins). Although most horses have relatively low numbers of worms, certain individuals can develop high burdens. Animals that are not on an effective worm control programme can develop high levels of these parasites and, even in well-managed populations, young, adolescent and geriatric horses are at risk of developing high burdens.

The commonest types of worms that infect equids are the small strongyles (also known as cyathostomins).

Horses and ponies with high burdens can develop clinical disease, including, weight loss, colic, and diarrhoea. In severe cases, some animals can die of worm related disease. It is therefore important that high worm burdens in individuals are avoided.

Effective dewormers (anthelmintics) have been available to treat and control worms for many decades; but drug resistance, particularly in the small strongyle group, to a number of these medicines is now widespread. This means that worm control needs to be balanced between the need to avoid high levels of worm infection and the requirement to maintain the effectiveness of the dewormers that are currently effective.

» Veterinary practices can contact ADB at to register interest in the diagnostic test service.


One thought on “New blood test to diagnose small redworms in horses

  • August 8, 2019 at 9:09 am

    The blood test is available via ADB from September 2019. The kit to allow vets to test the blood samples in-house will be abstinence in 2020.


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