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2002/02/05

The Hidden Threat: Subclinical Parasitism submitted by Equine Resources International Every day your horses are exposed to a deadly disease - a disease that can rob them of their health, strength and vitality. It can do irreparable damage to their lungs and seriously decrease feed efficiency and performance. What's more, it's almost impossible to eradicate, even in the best-maintained pastures and stables. This all too common condition is a serious threat to horses and it is known as subclinical parasitism. The effects of clinical parasitism, by comparison, are easy to see - a dull hair coat, potbelly and eggs and parasites in the manure. Subclinical parasitism, however, is entirely different. It is almost impossible to detect the damage being done to the horse's vital organs by migrating parasite larvae. Even a negative fecal egg count means little, as it does nothing to reveal this threat. Fecal tests only detect the presence of eggs from sexually mature females. Not only is subclinical parasitism difficult to detect, it's also impossible to prevent exposure to infective parasites. Over thousands of years, equine parasites have evolved life cycles that allow them to survive even the worst of conditions. For example, roundworm eggs can remain viable for up to ten years. As a result, even the most cautious management methods cannot prevent parasite infestation. Subclinical parasitism can have dire consequences. For instance, migrating roundworm larvae damage the liver and also burrow their way through essential tissues of the lung. Unfortunately, lung tissue heals by scarring, which means that once the damage has been done, it's permanent. The horse affected will have less working lung tissue for the rest of its life. Large Strongyle (Strongylus vulgaris) larvae do their primary damage it the cranial mesenteric artery, which provides the blood supply throughout most of the intestinal tract. The gathering of all these larvae in one spot can cause the artery walls to weaken and the artery may even balloon and burst, causing rapid death. Clots can form as blood moves around the larvae. These clots cling to the artery walls like clusters of grapes. If one breaks free, it will be forced downstream in the blood supply of the intestines, where it may block blood flow. This is called thromboembolic colic and it can result in serious illness and death. The gastrointestinal tract can become inflamed as a result of the presence of various types of parasites. This can rob horses of some nutrition - meaning they won't be able to gain the maximum benefit from the feed they receive. The truth is, parasitized horses may not be meeting their genetic potential. Because of this danger is constant, truly complete parasite protection requires daily prevention and control. Traditional purge dewormers, given once every couple of months, work by allowing this daily infestation of parasites and then, once every few months when the dewormer is administered, purging adult parasites form the horse's system. This method usually works to alleviate the visible symptoms of parasite infestation, but it does little to stop the damage caused to vital internal organs by migrating larvae. Substantial damage can easily occur in the weeks between administrations of a purge dewomer. That's why daily protection from parasites is so essential in proper horse care. Daily dewormers offer the advantage of protecting horses from parasites every day. They are designed to kill parasites before they migrate - before they can seriously damage a horse's health. Fortunately, one daily anthelmintic has been preventing and controlling parasites for 11 years. Strongid® C has proven extremely useful during this time and, coupled with a twice-yearly avermectin treatment, the product is effective against a wide spectrum of parasites. What's more, it is supported by an array of professionals from across the equine disciplines, including: Olympic medallists Karen and David O'Connor; American's most trusted horseman John Lyons; dressage Olympian Steffen Peters; top reiner Todd Bergen; well-known cutting trainer Punk Carter; Arabian Horse trainer Tommy Garland; One Target Training creators Shawna and Vinton Karrasch and barrel-racing legend Martha Josey. More information on Strongid® C, and Strongid® C 2X-a more concentrated version of the same product-is available by visiting www.pfizer.com/equine. Subclinical parasitism is a very real disease that can seriously affect the health of both pleasure mounts and high-performance equine athletes. The best protection for your horse is a closely-monitored, daily parasite prevention and control program.

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