Sweet itch is caused by an allergic reaction to the saliva of biting insects. Although horses can be irritated by bites from many types of flies, allergies are most likely to develop to bites by one of the species of Culicoides midges.
Horses are most commonly affected between March and November as this is when these biting insects are most active. This is why NOW is the time to start preventative measures for sweet itch BEFORE your horse starts itching. Once horses prone to sweet itch start scratching it can be much more challenging to stop them itching.
At Minster Equine we are pleased to be able to offer a vaccine called Insol (originally developed for ringworm in horses) that has shown some promising results in the prevention of sweet itch. The vaccine course consists of 2 vaccinations 2 week apart, which ideally are given before your horse starts displaying clinical signs of sweet itch. This vaccine needs to be specially imported in and so if you are interested we will need some notice to order it for you.
If you are interested and would like to find out more or speak to one of our vets about sweet itch management please get in touch with the clinic on 01904 788840.