It Wasn't Sweet Itch, It Was Neck Threadworms - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 04-20-2019, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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It Wasn't Sweet Itch, It Was Neck Threadworms

I started a thread on here several weeks ago thinking my old Arab had Sweet Itch but it turned out to be a reaction to Neck Threadworm larvae migrating out of his body, mostly via his midline but he also had outbreaks around his eyes, on his upper neck and under his tail.

Check out the articles on Neck Threadworms on a website called www.thehorsesback.com. There are three or four articles that describe the problem and how to treat it. My poor old guy had a horribly swollen sheath and was lying down and rubbing his belly RAW from the fiery itching. The solution is not rubbing cream on the horse...it's killing the larvae with Ivermectin.

I urge everyone who thinks their horse has Sweet Itch to read the articles. In my horse's case, I spent a fortune on creams before I discovered the articles and double-dosed him with Ivermectin. His case was so bad that I did a second double-dose about a week and a half after the first. Now he will need to get a normal dose of Ivermectin every month all through fly season.

And my veterinarian also recommended generic Zyrtec - one tablet per 100 lbs. of body weight - TWICE a day through the end of fly season. That brought the swelling in the horse's sheath down in a couple of days.

This problem is very common in elderly, neglected and rescue horses. They suffer horribly. I have only owned this horse for about a year and a half and I mistakenly believed he'd been on a regular worming program previously.

I have a feeling that Sweet Itch may also be worm related - not neck threadworms, perhaps, but some other parasite because it looks identical to the damage caused by Neck Threadworms - the only difference is in the location.

My horse is growing hair in all the locations that were previously raw and oozing. I rest my case.

Oh, and AFTER the larvae have exited through the horse's skin, scrape all the scabs off and THEN you can apply a soothing cream such as DurVet or Udder Balm to calm the skin down. But putting cream on it before killing the larvae is a waste of time and money. Do NOT apply anything that has an ingredient that can DRY the skin. Just makes the suffering worse.
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post #2 of 25 Old 04-20-2019, 08:08 PM
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Thanks for sharing!
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post #3 of 25 Old 04-20-2019, 08:19 PM
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The first summer that I had my saddlebred mare, she itched like crazy. Mostly on her under belly. She was pretty well taken care of before I received her but she did come from an area that is heavy with the midge fly.

I came across a couple of articles on neck thread worms and treated her with the double dose of ivermectin and again two weeks later. Regular de worming will not kill neck thread worm larvae. I had to keep the larvae knocked out and only time let the adults die. She never developed the itching and raw sores on her belly again.

I've mentioned this to quite a few people but it always seems to fall on deaf ears so I stopped. I'm glad that you discovered this and were able to treat your boy and he got relief.

I wish that this was talked about more. I think that it could help a lot of horses who's owners have tried just about everything else to no avail

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post #4 of 25 Old 04-21-2019, 12:35 AM Thread Starter
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Hope it helps!
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post #5 of 25 Old 04-21-2019, 11:17 AM
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I'm so glad your horse is doing better! I do think it's an unknown thing and many horse are misdiagnosed or people don't know how to treat it (so simple, first step on any horse because why not??). However, there are horses with genuine sweet itch and not a parasite (of any sort) issue, maybe there is a correlation with some but I sure don't think all!
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post #6 of 25 Old 04-21-2019, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks!

Yes, I KNOW that sweet itch is a "thing" in some parts of the world where midges are a horrible nuisance. Here, it seems to especially attack old horses, horses that have been neglected, horses that come to rescues in miserable condition. That suggests that their immune systems are compromised and/or that they have not been on a regular worming schedule. I started my old guy on flaxseed for coat/skin/immune support. Wish I had done that sooner. I feel like there is some connection between sweet itch and the neck threadworm problem we have been fighting. I'm not convinced that "allergy to midge saliva" explains all of it.
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post #7 of 25 Old 04-21-2019, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeverDullRanch View Post
Yes, I KNOW that sweet itch is a "thing" in some parts of the world where midges are a horrible nuisance. Here, it seems to especially attack old horses, horses that have been neglected, horses that come to rescues in miserable condition. That suggests that their immune systems are compromised and/or that they have not been on a regular worming schedule. I started my old guy on flaxseed for coat/skin/immune support. Wish I had done that sooner. I feel like there is some connection between sweet itch and the neck threadworm problem we have been fighting. I'm not convinced that "allergy to midge saliva" explains all of it.
If I'm not mistaken, neck threadworms are passed by the midge fly.
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post #8 of 25 Old 04-21-2019, 03:38 PM
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I've been thinking about getting a "rescue" type horse in the future so good thing to be aware of. Thank you for passing on this info. Glad your horse is responding well to treatment!
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post #9 of 25 Old 04-21-2019, 05:25 PM Thread Starter
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(Responding to LoriF) Yes, the midges (also known as "no-see-ums") are the vector for the neck threadworm larvae. They pick them up by biting a horse who has them and they carry them to the next horse(s) they bite.
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post #10 of 25 Old 04-21-2019, 06:30 PM
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Vets in our area say neck threadworms don't even exist, so....

I treated my guy and he was loads better. He still itches and gets reactions to bugs, but he's not rubbing his mane out or scratching himself bloody on every tree, post, or building he can find like he was. He gets a monthly dose of Ivermectin from about now through the first hard freeze in the fall.
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