Evaluation of conventional PCR for detection of Strongylus vulgaris on horse farms

M. K. Bracken, C. B.M. Wøhlk, S. L. Petersen, M. K. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Strongyle parasites are ubiquitous in grazing horses. Of these, the bloodworm Strongylus vulgaris is regarded as most pathogenic. Increasing levels of anthelmintic resistance in strongyle parasites has led to recommendations of decreased treatment intensities, and there is now a pronounced need for reliable tools for detection of parasite burdens in general and S. vulgaris in particular. The only method currently available for diagnosing S. vulgaris in practice is the larval culture, which is laborious and time-consuming, so veterinary practitioners most often pool samples from several horses together in one culture to save time. Recently, molecular tools have been developed to detect S. vulgaris in faecal samples. The aim of this study was to compare the performance of a conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay with the traditional larval culture and furthermore test the performance of pooled versus individual PCR for farm screening purposes. Faecal samples were obtained from 331 horses on 18 different farms. Farm size ranged from 6 to 56 horses, and horses aged between 2 months and 31 years. Larval cultures and PCR were performed individually on all horses. In addition, PCR was performed on 66 faecal pools consisting of 3-5 horses each. Species-specific PCR primers previously developed were used for the PCR. PCR and larval culture detected S. vulgaris in 12.1 and 4.5% of individual horses, respectively. On the farm level, eight farms tested positive with the larval culture, while 13 and 11 farms were positive with the individual and pooled PCRs, respectively. The individual PCR method was statistically superior to the larval culture, while no statistical difference could be detected between pooled and individual PCR for farm screening. In conclusion, pooled PCR appears to be a useful tool for farm screening for S. vulgaris.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-391
Number of pages5
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number2-4
StatePublished - Mar 23 2012


  • Diagnosis
  • PCR
  • Performance
  • Pooled samples
  • Strongylus vulgaris

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Veterinary (all)


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