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Managing Sweet Itch
Unfortunately there is no cure for Sweet Itch. Once a horse develops the allergy it can get worse year on year. The horse’s comfort and well-being are down to the owner’s management.
MINIMISE THE ALLERGIC REACTION
- The use of anti-histamines such as Piriton may bring some relief but increasingly high dose rates are required, effects are variable and they can make the horse drowsy.
- By depressing the immune system with corticosteroids, these may bring temporary relief but there are side effects, including laminitis.
- Applying soothing lotions or creams such as Calamine or Sudocrem to the irritated areas can bring relief and reduce inflammation, but will not deter a further midge attack.
MINIMISE MIDGE ATTACK
- Use of a Boett® veterinary blanket, the original Sweet Itch blanket is still by far the most effective Sweet Itch protection to date and avoids the need to use insecticides, oils or greases or the need to stable dawn and dusk.
- Remove your horse from the source of the allergy where possible; unfortunately removing your horse from biting midges is very difficult.
- Midges like to breed on wet land, near water and woodland, where possible you would remove susceptible horses from these conditions. A windy hillside or coastal site with sea breezes will have fewer midges.
- Stable at dawn and dusk, this is when midges are at their peak, this is ideal for the less severe cases of Sweet Itch but not the seriously itchy horse as they can do untold damage to themselves and the stable in a very short time.
- Use an insect repellent, there are many available but some more effective than others.
A wide variety immunotherapy and desensitisation protocols have been trialled in attempts to reduce or modify the immune response, with considerable success rates. This particular BioEos product is now available through The National Sweet Itch Centre/Itchy Horse Co. in the UK and ProVet in the EU. The underlying immune modulation is now proven to shift the immune system from a Th2 to a Th1 mode. BioEos is a research and development company with worldwide patents derived from many years of research at University College London and the many applications are being developed for use in both human, agricultural and aquaculture treatments. Current clinical trials for the treatment of pancreatic cancers (Immodulon Therapeutics) and the treatment of other chronic immune deficiency disorders (ActinoPharma) are putting this research into practical effect.
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Among the many effective natural remedies available to assist with the management of sweet itch are Aloe Vera products. These are used with great success by many owners to help soothe and reduce the itching, and improve the general well-being of your horse.