Summertime is here and along with the summer months in Florida comes humidity and an increase in the fly population. Unfortunately for horse owners an increase in the fly population creates many problems. One major problem that seems to be intensifying every year is the summer sores or medically known as Habronemiasis. Summers sores are lesions on the skin caused by worm larvae from the horse’s stomach.
How does the stomach worm larvae end up as a skin lesion? One simple answer is from a fly. The stable fly is a host for these parasites. The worms in the horse’s stomach produce eggs that pass through the digestive tract, which end up in the horse’s manure. The eggs then hatch to develop larvae that attaches to the blades of grass. The fly carries the larvae on its extremities and is attracted to mucous membranes or open wounds on the horse. The larvae infect the open wound or a mucous membrane such as the eye or prepuce. This creates a type of allergic reaction within the immune system causing inflammation, discharge, and the production of granulation tissue infected with larvae. One way to tell if you are dealing with a summer sore is the granulation tissue contains small yellow rice like larvae within the skin and a mucopurulent discharge associated with the wound.
The best way to avoid summer sores is to prevent them. Fly control, proper wound care, and most importantly an effective de-worming program. Habronema species are the source of summer sores. Please call Palm Beach Equine Clinic and discuss with one of our veterinarians a proper de-worming program.
Proper treatment of the lesion is extremely important. Delaying initial treatment may result in an increased cost. Delaying treatment may require surgical excision of the granulation tissue and possible skin grafting. Severe Habronemiasis of the male horse’s sheath may require reconstructive surgery of the prepuce and/or urethra. At the first sign of a summer sore contact your veterinarian at Palm Beach Equine Clinic at 561-793-1599.