Biphasic appearance of corticated and decorticated ascarid egg shedding in untreated horse foals

E. M. Donoghue, E. T. Lyons, J. L. Bellaw, M. K. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Parascaris spp. infects foals worldwide and may cause airway inflammation in addition to small intestinal impaction and rupture. It is observed that acquired immunity eliminates ascarid burdens beginning at about 6 months of age, and current evidence suggests that a single parasite generation propagates in each foal crop. The purpose of this study was to monitor natural parasitic infections in untreated mixed breed horse foals over the course of 0-300 days of age. Fecal samples were collected monthly from all foals born in 2014 (n= 13), beginning July 2014 through February 2015. Fecal egg counts (FECs) were performed in triplicates using the Mini-FLOTAC method. The foals were necropsied between 154 and 298 days of age and all intestinal ascarid were collected and identified to stage. Ascarid FECs exhibited a biphasic distribution with an initial peak at 91-120 days of age and, after a steady decline, a second, smaller peak at 241-300 days of age. Numbers of corticated and decorticated ascarid eggs were compared, with decorticated FECs remaining consistently low with a slight increase directly after the first corticated FEC peak. Overall, 4.36% of the total ascarid eggs counted were decorticated. Ascarid FECs showed a sharp peak in September, declined, and then steadily increased beginning in December and continuing through February. Upon necropsy, moderate to high number of ascarid specimens were recovered from foals between 8 and 10 months of age, coinciding with the second peak for the FECs. Eleven of the 13 foals harbored immature ascarid stages indicating a recent reinfection. However, these data demonstrates that apparently a second, smaller wave of infection is present in 8-10 month old foals. It may be of value to monitor egg counts in this age group to make sure that all parasite categories are well controlled.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-117
Number of pages4
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 30 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.


  • Corticated
  • Decorticated
  • Egg count
  • Horse foals
  • Parascaris spp.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary


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