Intradermal skin tests in equine dermatology: a study of 83 horses


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Allergic diseases are often diagnosed clinically in the horse without performing diagnostic tests. The purpose of this work was to contribute to the validation of intradermal skin tests in the horse. Eighty-three horses, 14 showing skin or respiratory signs of supposed allergic origin, were subjected to an intradermal skin test using 6 different allergens, positive and negative controls. The tests were read for all animals after 20 min, and for 29 horses after 1 and 4 h. Additionally, 19 horses were tested a few months apart. The comparison after 20 min of the cutaneous reactions to allergens and to positive and negative controls allowed us to propose a threshold of positivity; skin reactions with a diameter above or equal to 15 mm, or with at least a 13 mm diameter and a skin thickness similar to the positive control. There was a marked difference between the healthy group and the allergic group for Culex pipiens and Dermatophagoides farinae, although positive reactions were not rare in the healthy group. Tabanus sp. gave positive reactions in both healthy and allergic animals. There was no significant variation in the reactions observed after 20 min and after 60 min. After 4 h, the progression of the reactions was highly variable and negative controls showed a certain number of positive reactions, which negated their reliability at the point in time, and made it difficult to interpret the other allergens. Finally, the repeatability of intradermal skin tests reactions after 20 min was poor, and probably related to the influence of seasonality for some of the allergens. Further studies are required, notably with others allergens, to interpret intradermal skin tests' responses in clinical practice.