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There are two types of louse that live on horses. Haematopinus asini is a sucking louse that feeds on blood and tissue fluids and Damalinia equi is a biting louse that feeds on scurf and other debris on the surface of the skin. They are host specific and do not live on humans.

Infestations usually occur during the winter months when the horse's coat is long. They are 1.5 - 3 mm long and are grey in colour. They lay cream coloured eggs, usually around the roots of the mane and forelock.


Lice cause the skin to become very itchy and infested horses rub and bite themselves, creating bald and sore patches. The coat can become dull and scurfy and severely infested horses become restless and lose condition.


Wash the horse with an antiparasitic shampoo or apply a louse powder. Ensure you apply either preparation evenly and make sure you rub them in well. Repeat the treatment again two weeks later to kill any young lice that have hatched from eggs since the first treatment.


Lice spread from one animal to another by direct contact or from shared brushes, rugs etc. If one horse is affected, treat all the other horses in the field at the same time.

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