Analysis of multiyear studies in horses in Kentucky to ascertain whether counts of eggs and larvae per gram of feces are reliable indicators of numbers of strongyles and ascarids present

M. K. Nielsen, K. E. Baptiste, S. C. Tolliver, S. S. Collins, E. T. Lyons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations

Abstract

Increasing levels of anthelmintic resistance in equine nematodes have led to recommendations of more sustainable anthelmintic treatment protocols with emphasis on parasite surveillance and diagnosis, rather than prophylactic calendar-based treatments. This requires knowledge of the diagnostic test performance of techniques for counts of eggs per gram of feces (EPG) as well as methods for culturing, counting and identifying third stage (L3) strongyle larvae per gram of feces (LPG). For horses, such information does not exist in the published literature. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between worm count and fecal egg count (FEC) data for strongyle and Parascaris equorum infections as well as larval culture counts for diagnosing Strongylus spp. infections. Necropsy data from 693 horses used for critical or controlled tests, including information on total worm counts, fecal egg counts (FEC) and larval culture results collected at the University of Kentucky over a period of 50 years were analyzed. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curves were generated for the larval cultures and ascarid egg counts. For the strongyle egg counts, potential FEC cutoff values for treatment were evaluated statistically by comparing the total strongyle worm counts below and above chosen cutoff values. All tests had high positive predictive values (>0.95), but moderate negative predictive values (<0.70). The negative predictive values of the larval counts were negatively affected by increasing egg count levels. Strongyle FEC cutoff values up to the level of 500 EPG yielded significantly higher strongyle worm counts in the treatment group, whereas no differences were found at higher cutoffs. This supports usage of cutoffs for treatment in the 0-500 EPG range. Altogether, the present study yields unique and useful information of widely used methods for parasite surveillance and diagnosis in equine establishments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-84
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Volume174
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 24 2010

Keywords

  • Diagnostic
  • Egg count
  • Horse
  • Larval culture
  • Validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary

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