Midges and black flies - the triggers of sweet itch symptoms in horses.
The culprits are mostly the Culicoides mosquitoes (midges) and sometimes the black flies (Simulium), but other insects such as horseflies can also trigger sweet itch symptoms. Only the fertilized female mosquitoes pose a threat. As they bite, their saliva gets into the skin. This contains a protein to which sensitized horses are allergic.
- rash (pustules)
- Severe itching, restlessness and constant chafing
- Hairless chafing
- skin thickening
- crusting and scaling
- Open and bloody spots
- weeping wounds
- secondary infections
But why does a horse react so strongly to insects that an "outdoor animal" should actually be able to tolerate?
The actual cause lies in the sensitization of the horses, which leads to an allergy. Exactly what causes the sensitization is a matter of debate. There are probably many factors that increase the risk of your horse developing eczema. A weakened immune system is considered to be partly responsible.
Nutrition, habitat and condition or stress level of the horse also have an influence on the development of sensitization to the saliva of the mosquito species Culicoides. Metabolic disorders and malnutrition also promote this clinical picture.
Experts also name the following causes:
- Too much grazing on energy- and protein-rich meadows
- lack of exercise
- problems with bowel function
- too much starch & carbohydrates
- mineral deficiency
- inflammation in the body