ALLEERGIE TO THE HORSE HAIR, presented to the Curly Horse community by France Curly February 28, 2012

THE DOCTORE OPINION ... ... Why is it "Curly vaccine"? ... ... By Dr J Laurent

Allergy to horse hair is actually an abnormal reaction of the human immune system to a protein found mainly in the skin of horses. This allergy is called immediate allergic hypersensitivity, where cells manufacture the subject, the contact with the allergen, immunoglobulin type E.

At first contact with a horse, at this phase you’re not clinically aware that the immune system is reacting silently. Repeated contact with the same allergen (which may be to different horses) will induce the production of large quantities of IgE along with ‘informed’ lymphocytes. The memory of immune cells is great, and the time between knowing about the production of IgE, can be counted in years.

Simplified diagram of the allergic reaction type of immediate hypersensitivity. The production of large amounts of IgE at the time of the allergic reaction is independent of the amount of antigen present in the environment. IgE antibodies attach themselves to certain other immune system cells, such as mast cells, who return them, via the blood, to the chemical mediators which will stimulate the target organs and cause a clinical allergic reaction: bronchoalveolar constriction (asthma), rhinitis, eczema, pruritus, but also ... headache and abdominal pain. If the protein finds his fine structure differs, the number of ‘informed’ lymphocytes alerted by the presence of the allergen will be less. The immune system's response will (ie allergic) dysfunction and the symptoms will be weaker or nonexistent.

However if the protein is in very low quantities, as in the Curly, each contact to small quantities of the specific immunoglobulin (G4), will lead to resistance against the antigen and eventual eradication of the organism. When the number of these antibodies is sufficient, the subject is protected. This is the effect of "vaccination" to the antigen, which, currently, is being medically practiced under the name of desensitization. Thus, our Curly is hypo-allergenic, not only because it induces little or no allergic reaction, but also because you can "vaccine" the body so that riders can be desensitized in the hope that they can be in the presence of other breeds of horses too without suffering from a reaction.

background photo and permission for use granted by Barbara Wheeler Photography,
this is a curly horse (stallion) out in a wild horse herd, the source of the original North American Curly Horses

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