Your Views for September 21

Rat lungworm the cause?

I bred and raised Arabian horses in Puna from 2004 until my farm was inundated by lava in May 2018.


In my early farm years, I lost seven young horses to an unknown rear-end paralysis. This always happened in wet years, when we had a problem with large African snails.

I consulted several island veterinarians with no success. When researching symptoms, I discovered cyanide poisoning had the same symptoms as my horses were exhibiting. Cyanide poisoning has an antidote, sodium thiosulfate, administered as 3 tablespoons in water using a wormer syringe to get it in the horse’s mouth.

Miraculously, this worked quickly without side effects. I saved four of my foals and several other young horses in my area. It worked if administered when symptoms of lack of rear-end control and difficulty getting up first appeared.

In later years, vet Lisa Woods did a necropsy on a Puna foal that had the symptoms and found rat lungworm. I think my foals were infected with rat lungworm, which has a snail component. Grazing horses can eat snail trails in wet grass, and young horses don’t have as strong an immune system as adults. Humans had developed this disease in the same area in the same time period.

It is very important to humans, dogs and horses to determine the rat lungworm issue. Denial doesn’t solve the problem.

Your article of Sept. 15 (“Waipio horse deaths go undiagnosed,” Tribune-Herald) mentions some indication of rat lungworm. I also think it worthy to note I cured horses with the symptoms using sodium thiosulfate, a cheap chemical, easily administered, without side effects, which worked within hours after which prostrate horses were able to get up on their own and move normally.

I have spoken about this to many people in the Hawaii horse world. Wish they would listen because sodium thiosulfate is worth a try.


Bettie Van Overbeke


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