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Open Access Research

Summer eczema in exported Icelandic horses: influence of environmental and genetic factors

Sigríður Björnsdóttir1*, Jakobína Sigvaldadóttir1, Hans Broström2, Birgitte Langvad3 and Ágúst Sigurðsson4

Author Affiliations

1 Icelandic Veterinary Services, Dept Holar, 551 Saudarkrokur, Iceland

2 Dept Clin Sci, Sect Medicine and Surgery, Box 7018, SLU, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden

3 Valbyvej 42, 3200 Helsinge, Danmark

4 The Icelandic Farmers Association, Hagatorgi 1, Reykjavík, Iceland

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Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2006, 48:3  doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-3

Published: 26 May 2006

Abstract

A cross sectional study was designed to estimate the prevalence of summer eczema (a chronic, recurrent seasonal dermatitis) in exported Icelandic horses and the influence of environmental and genetic factors on the development of the disease.

Among 330 horses, which had been exported to Germany, Denmark and Sweden, 114 (34.5%) were found to have clinical signs of summer eczema. The prevalence was highest 2 years after export and the exposure to the biting midges Culicoides spp., was found to be the main risk factor for developing the disease. Genetic influence on the sensitivity for the disease was not established.

It was concluded that exported Icelandic horses are predisposed for summer dermatitis and the fact that they are not introduced to the antigens of the biting midges early in live, due to it's absence in Iceland, is likely to explain the high prevalence of the disease after export.