The EquiSal Tape Worm Test – Would you like to know how it works?!

I know that tape worms are not as prevalent in horse society. But, they do exist.  Often, we spend more on wormers so that we can take care of tape worms. should they exist.

Well… not there is a test.  Simple, Easy… mouth swab.  It is through the Horsemens Lab, which I recommend for any fecal testing.  Here is a link to a post I wrote about their labs.


Here is the info:

Click image to go to the website.

Tapeworm burdens are a threat to horse health as they are associated with various types of colic and intestinal obstruction. It is important to avoid routine worming strategies as this can cause worms to build up resistance, enabling them to survive worming. Widespread resistance would have devastating consequences, especially as there are only two drugs available for the control of tapeworm in horses. Current EquiSal data shows that only 25% of horses tested for tapeworm have a burden that needs treatment. 

Horsemen’s Laboratory
The EquiSal Salivary Antibody Test for Equine Tapeworms is Now Available for Purchase through Horsemen’s Laboratory

Horsemen’s Laboratory is excited to announce that we have received our first shipment of EquiSal Test Kits and they are now available for purchase. The cost is $42 per test or $40 each if you purchase 2-5 tests and $38 each if you purchase 6 or more tests. It is recommended the test be conducted 2 times a year.

We have a limited supply, so if you are interested in purchasing the New EquiSal Test, please call Horsemen’s Laboratory today at (800) 544-0599 or Visit our blog

We are working closely with Dr. Corrine Austin and Austin Davis Biologics Ltd., in Great Britain to provide the new EquiSal test for tapeworms to our clients here in the USA. EquiSal is the new antibody test for detecting tapeworms in horses using a salivary sample. For more information about EquiSal go to

If you have additional questions about your horse’s worm control program or deworming medications Horsemen’s Laboratory recommends you consult your veterinarian or sign up for Horsemen’s Laboratory consulting service at or call (800) 544-0599.


The EquiSal Tapeworm Test works like a blood test but, instead, uses saliva that you collect yourself. The test is scientifically proven to diagnose tapeworm burdens with high accuracy – it tells you if your horse has a burden and whether you need to worm or not. Simply incorporate tapeworm testing every six months into your targeted worming programme. To test for tapeworm, all you need to do is collect saliva from your horse using a specially designed swab and return it to the lab using the freepost bag provided.

How to test with EquiSal Tapeworm
Initial testing

We recommend that a horse has not been wormed for 4 months before testing with the EquiSal Tapeworm Test.

Frequency of testing

We recommend that you test your horse twice a year for tapeworm.

The best time to test is during late winter/early spring and autumn/early winter, as these are considered to be the ideal times of year to worm for tapeworm. Only worm your horse if testing recommends that treatment is required.

Remember to carry out faecal egg counts to detect other worms (such as redworm and roundworm) and worm accordingly.

A complete worm control programme should include a yearly winter worming dose to treat encysted redworm, until an encysted redworm test is available.

Retesting after a borderline or moderate/high diagnosis

If a horse has had a previous borderline or moderate/high diagnosis, a retest can be carried out 2 -3 months after worming treatment for tapeworm. Our data shows that, in most cases, reduction in tapeworm-specific antibodies was seen within weeks following treatment.

How long after worming are tapeworm-specific antibodies present in saliva?

Austin Davis Biologics carried out a pilot trial during 2015 in which EquiSal Tapeworm testing was carried out on horses (with access to grazing) every two weeks following worming treatment for tapeworm. Data collected from this trial showed that, in most horses kept in well-managed paddocks, reduction in tapeworm-specific antibodies was seen within two to three weeks following treatment. 73% of horses had Saliva Scores which dropped to low within five weeks of worming for tapeworm. The remaining horses took a further six weeks to drop to low. This suggests that antibodies present in saliva have less memory of tapeworm infection than antibodies in blood.

It is important to understand that the situation is complicated if the horse becomes reinfected by tapeworm larvae after worming treatment. Tapeworm reinfection has been seen in horses kept in poorly managed paddocks where reinfection can obviously happen very easily. But, given that the tapeworm’s life cycle requires an intermediate host (an oribatid mite), even well managed paddocks containing horses with high tapeworm burdens could harbour infected oribatid mites within the grass. This means that there is still a reinfection risk after worming for horses grazing in these circumstances too.

Austin Davis Biologics is carrying out various trials to further research tapeworm burdens in horses, including a research project with the Royal Veterinary College to investigate the oribatid mite part of the horse tapeworm life cycle. This research is essential to fully understand and manage tapeworm burdens in horses.

In summary, it is important to carry out regular testing to ensure that worming strategies are effective and current data from EquiSal testing suggests that regular testing has an important part to play in monitoring effective worm control.

Please click here for the science behind antibody responses in saliva and blood.

How to collect a saliva sample
The EquiSal saliva collection swab has been specially designed for collecting horse saliva. The absorbent end collects about 0.5 ml of saliva and when this amount has been collected, a volume indicator in the swab turns pink.

Horses must not eat, drink or be exercised for at least 30 minutes before collecting the sample for EquiSal testing. This part of the sample procedure is essential to obtain reliable results. We recommend tying the horse up in a position where they cannot reach any food (including small morsels of hay etc on the ground or salt licks). This could be a good opportunity to have a grooming session for example. If your horse is at grass, there is no need for a stable, simply tie them up at the gate or similar.

Using the saliva swab provided in the EquiSal kit, collect a sample from your horse by inserting the swab through the interdental space (the space between the front and back teeth). Position it on the tongue and allow the horse to move its tongue up and down under the swab.

After 10-20 seconds remove the swab and inspect the volume indicator for colour change to bright pink. If the indicator has not changed colour, return the swab in the mouth and continue sampling and checking the indicator until it has changed colour. If your horse’s mouth is dry then sample collection may take several minutes.

Once the indicator has turned pink, place the swab in the tube provided which contains preservative solution. This solution keeps saliva samples stable for at least 3 weeks at room temperature. Then simply add the provided barcode label, write the horses name on the tube and send the sample back to the EquiSal lab in the freepost envelope.

Results will be emailed out to you on the same day as testing.

Most of our customers have been very surprised how easy it is to collect saliva from their horse, including horses that are very difficult to worm!


Click here to watch the video.

Click image to watch the video.

The Tapeworm

Three species of tapeworm are capable of infecting horses; Anoplocephala perfoliata, Anoplocephala magna and Anoplocephaloides mamillana (previously known as Paranoplocephala mamilliana).


Of these, A. perfoliata is the most common in the UK. This tapeworm has a flattened body (strobila) and can grow up to 8 cm long by 1.5 cm wide. The body is made up of numerous segments (proglottids) and the head (scolex) has four suckers which the tapeworm uses to attach itself to the gut wall. It can be distinguished from the other species by the presence of flaps (lappets) on the head.



A. magna and A. mamillana are generally found in the small intestine, whereas A. perfoliata are usually found around the ileocaecal junction, between the small intestine and large intestine where the caecum is connected. Colonisation of the ileocaecal junction by A. perfoliata can result in physical damage to the tissue and the presence of large numbers can result in clinical disease such as colic.

The Tapeworm Lifecycle

orabatid_miteThe life cycle of A. perfoliata requires an intermediate host. Infected horses pass tapeworm eggs onto the pasture where they are consumed by free-living oribatid mites. The eggs develop into larvae within the mite until the mite is ingested by a grazing horse, allowing the larvae to be released into intestine. The larvae complete their life cycle by attaching to the lining of the intestines where they develop into adult tapeworms capable of releasing eggs.

The body of an adult tapeworm (termed the strobila) is composed of a chain of increasingly mature segments (called proglottids). Each segment is self-sufficient and complete with male and female reproductive organs which develop at different rates. New segments are constantly being produced behind the head (scolex) and they develop progressively as they are pushed towards the posterior end. Mature segments are gravid (full of fertilised eggs) and ready to detach from the body of the tapeworm and pass within the faeces into the environment, whereupon they can be eaten by oribatid mites and the cycle begins again.



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