Portable microscope helps vets to treat parasites in horses

A vet practice in the New Forest, Hampshire, is offering a mobile equine veterinary service including expert worming advice and the use a portable microscope to diagnose intestinal parasites in horses at the stable yard.

iolight microscope

New Forest Equine Vets (NFEV) are using the ioLight microscope, in order to support work to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable, responsible worming programmes.

Overuse of wormers is leading to parasite resistance becoming an increasing problem. Simply worming a horse is not a guarantee that the worms inside the horse have been killed and internal parasites can do irreversible damage to a horse.

iolought microscope

Currently, worm testing is carried out in a lab from a faecal sample, but a solution that enables testing on location with the vet present allows immediate results and treatment advice to be dispensed from an expert.

ioLight has developed the world's first professional quality pocket digital microscope.  The microscope fits in a jacket pocket, is simple to use and robust.  It unfolds quickly to record and share images and real time HD video on an iPad. Captured images have a resolution of 1 micron with a live magnification of x200 and x400 or more with digital zoom, making it ideal for counting parasite eggs in horses.  

Crucially, it means that an accurate egg count can now be carried out at the stable yard and this has a massive impact, as posting faeces can lead to the sample desiccating and the eggs hatching, leading to false negative results. It also allows the vet to give the owner immediate expert advice and treatment.

"Worms can cause serious disease in horses and can even be fatal," says Dr. Beth Robinson BVSc Cert AVP(EP) MRCVS, co-owner of NFEV. "One of the main aims of performing worm egg counts is to identify horses shedding low numbers of eggs so that we can maintain a low number of parasites on the pasture that have not been exposed to wormers and therefore have not been placed under selection pressure for resistance.  In horses shedding high numbers of eggs, worm egg count reduction tests are a useful way of assessing whether treatment has been effective."

The ioLight microscope is powerful enough to see the structure of plant and animal cells. The product uses standard microscope slides and features adjustable top and bottom illumination for use on both biological and opaque samples.  It is particularly good for live samples, like parasite oocysts, which deteriorate on the journey back to the lab, and it works anywhere, even without a WiFi or mobile phone network.

"The product is incredibly simple to use," explains Andrew Monk, co-founder of ioLight. "By using a tablet both the owner and vet can view the image and discuss treatment. We hope that more horse owners in the New Forest will use the services from NFEV to protect their animals, and that it will encourage other equine practices to purchase a microscope so they can also offer a similar high quality service."

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