Icelandic horses that are exported often suffer from so-called summer eczema. Nine genes from mosquitoes, that are believed to cause the eczema, have been isolated and a vaccine is being developed.
Pathologist Sigurbjörg Thorsteinsdóttir, at the Institute for Experimental Pathology of the University of Iceland in Reykjavík, said the vaccine is ready for experimental testing. Fréttabladid reports.
A summer eczema medicine has also been developed and is being tested on horses. They are given barley with allergy proteins and allergy protein shots, which is believed to cure the condition.
The summer eczema is a type of allergy (Type I hypersensitivity) that causes a rash on the horses’ skin, especially on the mane, ears and tail and in some cases on the head or back.
The horses itch from the rash and sometimes scratch until they bleed, as explained on the website of the Pathology Institute.
The eczema is caused by a type of mosquito that does not live in Iceland, of the genus Culicoides, commonly known as “midges.”
About 20 to 30 percent of Icelandic horses that are exported suffer from summer eczema, while only three to seven percent of other horse species are infected.
The cause of the summer eczema has been researched for six years at the Pathology Institute at Keldur in Reykjavík in cooperation with the University in Bern, Switzerland.