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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Nematoda
Class: Secernentea
Order: Spirurida
Family: Habronematidae
Genus: Habronema
Species: Habronema muscae

Habronema muscae is an internal stomach parasite that is most commonly found in Horses.


Life cycle


The adult worms lay eggs within the horse's stomach. The eggs are later excreted through the feces. The eggs hatch quickly after they are passed out of the horse.


After the eggs are hatched in the feces, the larvae are ingested by the maggots of different types of flies that lay their in the feces (such as houseflies, and stable fly). The larvae infect the maggots for about one week, or when the maggots mature into the adult fly. The larvae migrate into the mouthparts of the fly, where they are passed on to the horse when they feed around the horse’s moist areas such as wounds, nostrils, lips, and eyes. If the larvae are deposited into the open wounds, or broken skin they can cause ulcerated irritation called “summer sores”. They may also invade the eye and the eye membrane causing a persistent conjunctivitis case. If the larvae find their way up through the nose they can migrate into the lungs and cause tiny abscesses around where they imbed themselves in the lungs tissue.


When the larvae are licked and swallowed by the horse they travel to the stomach and imbed themselves into the mucus exudates. If the larvae make it into the stomach, after they are in the lungs or in the skin, they begin to mature. Once the larvae are imbedded in the stomach, they begin to mature. Once they are matured, the adults begin to migrate through the horse and begin to make eggs which will start the Life cycle again.



If the larvae which are in the mouthparts of the immediate host are deposited in the open skin well the fly feeds it can cause summer sores. Summer sores are ulcerated irritations. These lesions can cause soreness and itchiness and become covered in a reddish-yellow tissue.


If the worms get deposited into the eye or the area around the eye it can cause a persistent case of conjunctivitis.

Respiratory System

If the larvae travel through the nose, into the pulmonary system and then the lungs, they can cause abscesses in the lung tissue where they imbed themselves in the lungs tissue.

Digestive System

When the adult worms imbed themselves into the mucus lining of the stomach, in large number they can cause digestion can be affected. With even larger numbers the passing of food can be completely blocked.

Treatments and Preventions


The stages of Habronema that you can intervene are the eggs, and larvae in the horse. The eggs can be disposed by proper sanitation, and manure disposal. The eggs can be properly disposed of by manure control, because the eggs are passed out of the horse in feces. The other stage is when the larvae are swallowed by the horse. You can stop the cycle by properly de-worming. Those are the two stages in which you can intervene the life cycle of Habronema.


A common de-wormer that is effective against Habronema is ivermectin. Common brand names for ivermectin include: Zimecterin, Rotation 1, and Eqvalan. The indications for ivermectin are the disposal of the parasites: Large strongyle]]s, small strongyles, stomach worm (Habronema, and Trichostrongylus), adult pinworms, adult safaris, neck threadworms, and bots. Ivermectin works by disrupting the flow of a chemical called GABA. GABA is a neuromuscular chemical that is found naturally throughout the body. The disruption of the GABA in a parasite causes paralysis in the parasites, and death soon follows. In mammals GABA is only in the central nervous system, (brain and spinal cord) and is now protected from the protected from the ivermectin.

Counter Indictations

Ivermectin is not effective against tapeworms and fluke since they don’t have the chemical GABA. Other horses that have the infectious disease called “sleeping sickness” should not be given ivermectin. Sleeping Sickness which temporarily breaks down the protective layer of the central nervous system causes the ivermectin to affect GABA. Therefore horses with sleeping sickness should not take ivermectin.


There are two ways to control Habronema. The first way was stated earlier, by proper disposal of manure, since the eggs are excreted through the feces. The other way was control of fly population. The larvae are picked up by flies when they feed in the feces. The flies act as in intermediate host for the parasites, until they can find a permanent host. Proper control of the fly population (house flies, horse fly, and face fly can all carry Habronema) can decrease the possibility of your horse being infected by habronema. Those are the two most efficient ways to control the parasite habronema.



Ivermectin, with brand names such as Eqvalan, Zimecterin, and Rotation 1, is an antibiotic that is a fermentation product of the microorganism Streptomyces avermitilis. Ivermectin disrupts the flow of the neuro-muscular chemical GABA. In parasites GABA is found throughout the body, but in mammals it is protected by the central nervous system and the spinal column. In parasites the ivermectin affects the flow of GABA and causes paralysis and brings death quickly to the parasite. In sleeping sickness disease the horse’s protective layer around the spinal cord is temporarily broken down. Horses with sleeping sickness shouldn’t take ivermectin. Ivermectin doesn’t work against parasites that don’t have GABA such as tapeworms, and flukes.


Moxidectin was introduced in 1997; its brand name is Quest. Moxidectin interferes with the chloride channel neurotransmission in the parasite. This results in paralysis and death. The Moxidectin works just like the Ivermectin but disrupts a different neurological chemical. Moxidectin was the first anthelmintic that was approved for encysted cyathostomes.

External Fly Repellents

External Fly repellents are effective against Habronema too. The use of fly repellents will not kill the flies but will only repel them. Therefore the fly repellent will not kill Habronema but only reduce the possibility of your horse getting "summer sores", or other problems. This is because habronema is carried to the horse by flies.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Habronema". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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