Researchers identified higher serum antibody levels against the equine tapeworm, Anoplocephala perfoliata, in horses with colic compared to horses without colic in a study conducted by Maarten Boswinkel DVM, Specialist KNMvD Equine Internal Medicine, and Marianne M. Sloet van Oldruitenborgh-Oosterbaan DVM, PhD, Dipl ECEIM, Specialist KNMvD Equine Internal Medicine, from the faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

In this study, 139 horses with colic and 139 control horses were evaluated for the presence of tapeworm antibodies. Results indicated that horses with colic and with ileocaecal disorders (ailments affecting the junction of the small intestine and cecum) had significantly elevated antibody levels compared to their non-colicky counterparts. Further, fecal analysis failed to detect tapeworms in infected horses.


How do these results impact North American horses? According to veterinary parasitologist Craig R. Reinemeyer, DVM, PhD, president of East Tennessee Clinical Research Inc., while serum antibody tests are better able to detect the presence of tapeworm infections compared to fecal analysis, antibody tests are not commonly utilized in day-to-day practice.


According to Reinemeyer, the only facility in the United States that currently performs the A. perfoliata antibody test is the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The assay costs $20 per sample.


“This antibody test is often not practical for individual horses in terms of both price and sensitivity,” Reinemeyer said. “First, it is frequently more practical and economical to simply have the veterinarian deworm horses suspected of having tapeworm infections and second, there are still many horses with tapeworms that this test does not identify.”


Nonetheless, when used in combination with efficacious deworming produ