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|Insect Bite Hypersensitivity|
Various types of insects can cause skin problems in horses. Problems involving large, easily visible insects, such as deer flies, house flies, stable flies, horn flies, bot flies, mosquitoes and fire ants, are usually obvious. The extent of involvement of very small insects, such as lice, ticks, chiggers, mites and midges (no-see-ums), in skin disease may not be readily apparent and can be deceiving.
Horses can have 2 types of hypersensitivity reactions to insect bites:
Some horses develop an allergy to the bite of certain insects. An example is allergy to the bites of the Culicoides midge, called “summer itch” in North America, “Queensland itch” in Australia and “sweet itch” in the British Isles. If a horse is very hypersensitive, even only a few insect bites can cause a severe allergic reaction. These bites become very itchy, causing the horse to rub against fences and other objects, damaging the skin. Damaged areas can also become infected, compounding the problem. These damaged areas may not heal over the winter because of continued rubbing and can become worse with the onset of the new insect season in the spring.
Some horses may develop toxic reactions and allergic reactions.
It is important to control insect populations as part of a total management program. A “one-shot” approach to insect control is unlikely to have long-lasting benefits. If we have begun treating your horse in the midst of the insect season, then our primary goal will be to test a management and treatment program that can help your horse now. This may not completely cure your horse’s problem immediately, but it can guide us in planning for the next insect season. After the insect season ends, you should continue using the management practices mentioned below; we may or may not continue using medication to control your horse’s insect-related skin problems.
Medication and other treatment: