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Strongyles Journal Article

Strongyles Journal Article

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Published by Sam Fanelli

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Published by: Sam Fanelli on Apr 26, 2012
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04/26/2012

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1
Getting
to knowthe
Enemy:
Your Horse and Equine Strongyles
By: Sam FanelliOne of the biggest struggles for horse owners across the globe is combatingintestinal parasites such as equine strongyles, a nematode of the Strongyloideasuperfamily. Knowing and understanding the threat that these can pose is the first andmost crucial step in providing protection for your animals. Few people know strongylesare one of the most common and potentially dangerous parasites around the world, andunderestimating them can even be fatal.
 
 
2
For centuries, parasites have plagued doctors and their patients alike, as theycontinuously develop clever ways to avoid detection and destruction. Through differentcloaking mechanisms and toxins, they have succeeded in averting even the strongestantibiotics and other anti-microbial agents. No parasite can fight the power of simple
knowledge, however, and education about these worms’
medical manifestation isultimately crucial to keeping them under control.Equine strongyles are part of the family Strongylidae and can be subdivided intolarge strongyles (
Strongylinae 
) and small strongyles (
Cyathostominae 
)
 
based on sizeand behavior. Outside of the horse, these two groups behavior fairly similarly, but oncethey have made their way in, they take two very different approaches to infection. Largestrongyles quickly migrate out of the intestine and travel through various bodily tissuesfor six to eleven months before settling down in the intestine again to mature and layeggs. Small strongyles are less adventurous and instead establish a small capsule ofscar tissue to take up residence in within the lining of the large intestine. This cystprovides protection of the parasite during growth as well as temporary protection of thehorse before the larvae emerge to complete their maturation into adults. Symptoms arethus more variable with a
Cyathostominae 
infection, due to these cysts that provokesuch a small immune response. The number and species of strongyle truly determinesthe degree and severity of the symptoms, and cases can vary between mild and evendeadly.These parasites can cause a range of serious intestinal damages due tomigration or cyst rupture. Diarrhea, weight loss, bloating, and loss of appetite arecommon to both small and large strongyle infections and are common to most parasitic
 
 
3
infections of the gut. The unique manner in which these pathogens live within their host,however, leads to a broader variety of more serious symptoms. The migration of largestrongyles leads to swelling, inflammation, bleeding ulcers, and blood clots in thevarious organs and tissues traversed by the parasites. Within the dozens of species ofstrongyles, the most recognized and most dangerous of the large strongyles is
Strongylus vulgaris 
(
S. vulgaris 
). In their migration through the body, the larval stages of
S. vulgaris 
can actually
 
invade the lining of the arteries of the gut and cause restrictedblood flow, clustered blood clots, or even infarctions (tissue death) when the wormscreate a blockage. In severe cases, the mesenteric artery can even rupture, and thehorse will die. Small strongyles tend to cause more localized inflammation andhemorrhage after cyst rupture. The release of a large number of strongylessimultaneously can result in intense irritation to the lining of the large intestine andimpaired motility of the gut in a condition called larval cyathostomosis. Strongyles as awhole cause major pain and discomfort and can even be life-threatening; thus,numerous methods to treat them exist although they possess varying degrees ofsuccess.Most broad-spectrum dewormers are marketed to treat both large and smallstrongyles, but these claims tend to fall short in real life application and can actuallycause more problems for future infections. Out of the numerous types and classes, onlytwo classes can actually treat the migrating larval stage of the large strongyles. Theseinclude macrocyclic lactones (ivermectin/moxidectin) and high doses of benzamidazoles(Panacur), and they are largely ineffective against small strongyles. Through years offocus on treating large strongyle infections and neglecting small strongyles, they have

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