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Spring Tapeworm Control Important for Grazing Horses

DULUTH, GA. — January 29, 2009 — Before turning horses out on pasture this spring, remember to check with your veterinarian to ensure your deworming program includes tapeworm control.

Tapeworms are transmitted by an intermediate host, the oribatid mite, which lives on pastures. While grazing, horses can ingest the mite and become infected. Once infected, it takes the tapeworm about two to four months to mature inside the horse.1

“Spring is a perfect time for transmission of the tapeworm,” says Hoyt Cheramie, DVM, MS, manager, Veterinary Services, Merial. “Horses begin to get out and graze and may become infected with tapeworms, which can lead to colic.”2

Some research suggests that tapeworms, specifically Anoplocephala perfoliata, are associated with up to 80 percent of ileal impaction colic cases.2 Tapeworms can cause many other kinds of problems in the digestive system. For instance, tapeworms attach to the ileocecal area and cause inflammation, ulceration and bowel obstruction.2,3 In young horses, tapeworm infections can cause a potentially life-threatening condition known as intussusception, which is the telescoping of the intestine into itself.3

Dr. Cheramie warns that these health concerns aren’t just for a particular age or geographic area. Tapeworm infections can occur in all ages,1 and tapeworms are common in grazing horses across the country.4 In fact, more than half of the horses in one survey had tapeworms. Infection rates were as high as 95 percent in the upper Midwest.4 In Southern states, infection rates were still as high as 84.3 percent.3,4

“It doesn’t matter where you live; tapeworms are likely a concern in your area,” Dr. Cheramie says. “It’s important to make sure parasite control programs include effective tapeworm control, but using a tapeworm control doesn’t eliminate the risk of tapeworms or other illnesses.”

However, many dewormers are not effective against tapeworms. Horse owners should look for ingredients like praziquantel — found in broad-spectrum dewormers such as ZIMECTERIN® Gold (ivermectin/praziquantel). ZIMECTERIN Gold is approved to control more species and stages of parasites,5,6 including tapeworms, than any other brand. It is more than 99 percent effective against natural tapeworm infections.*,5 Plus, ZIMECTERIN Gold is approved for use in adult horses and foals as young as two months of age.6

“Spring is a great time to consider your parasite control and make sure horses are set up for a healthy year,” Dr. Cheramie says. “Treating for tapeworm infections, as recommended by your veterinarian, can easily and inexpensively help prevent the potential health concerns that go with tapeworms.”

Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,400 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2008 sales were over $2.6 billion. Merial Limited is a joint venture between Merck & Co., Inc. and sanofi-aventis. For more information, please see http://www.merial.com.


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