Many horse or pony owners will be only too aware of the distress that the midge-bite stimulated allergic skin disease known as sweet itch can cause and how difficult cases can be to treat and prevent.
Over the past few years several open, and more recently, controlled clinical trials have been conducted of a novel treatment for the management of sweet itch in horses and ponies. The treatment consists of an extract of the cell wall of a particular bacterium, which has been shown to have properties which modify aspects of the immune system. Earlier results with both intradermal injections and following up with oral administration by capsule have been encouraging.
A further controlled trial is being conducted this year using weekly administration of capsules, commencing before the start of the sweet itch season and running through to the end of October. The trial is being conducted under authorisation of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and according to regulated best clinical practice standards. Cases of mild to moderate (not severe) sweet itch are sought for this trial.
Suitable cases, ideally within a reasonable distance of Newmarket, will be provided with free trial medication and monthly assessements by Dr Janet Littlewood, RCVS Recognised Specialist in Veterinary Dermatology, preferably to take place at Rossdales Equine Hospital & Diagnostic Centre in Exning. Owners will be required to fill in a clinical record sheet each week when they give the product. Horses and ponies on the trial should not be treated with active medications, although citronella-based repellents and, if necessary, insect blankets may be used. Any animal that developed significant signs of disease requiring treatment with anti-inflammatory medication would be withdrawn from the trial, after completing a clinical record sheet prior to treatment. The welfare of the horse or pony will remain the prime concern of the investigator at all times.
If you have an animal that you would like to be considered for inclusion in the trial, please contact Dr Janet Littlewood on 01223 441539, or by email as soon as possible, and no later than 26th February.