This retrospective study reports on the clinical presentation of equine atopic skin disease and evaluates response to treatment with allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT) based on intradermal testing and/or serum testing. Computerized medical records from January 1991 to December 2008 yielded 54 horses included in the study. Presenting clinical signs (CS) included urticaria (n=28), pruritus (n=8) or both (n=18). Forty-one of 54 horses received ASIT, and response to ASIT (n=32) was evaluated via telephone survey. Eighty-four per cent (n=27) of owners reported that ASIT reduced their horse's CS; 59% (n=19) were able to manage CS by ASIT alone. Three horses (9%) were managed with ASIT in combination with doxepin and discontinued use of corticosteroids. There was no statistical significance between type of test performed and reported success of ASIT (χ 2 analysis, P=0.53). Ninety-three per cent (n=30) of owners reported use of antipruritic medications prior to starting ASIT; 57% (n=17) of these owners reported discontinuing those medications due to success of ASIT. Adverse effects were limited to swelling at the injection site, seen in 16% (n=5). Seventy-five per cent (n=24) of owners elected to discontinue ASIT after 6months to 8years (mean 2.2years): 15 due to resolution of CS, six due to persistent CS, two because the horse was sold, and one due to cost. Ten owners reported no recurrence of CS after discontinuing ASIT; five had recurrence within a median of 2years of discontinuing ASIT (range 1-12years). Allergen-specific immunotherapy is a safe and effective way to manage equine atopic skin disease.
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