Pixel by pixel: real-time observation and quantification of passive flotation speeds of three common equine endoparasite egg types

Jamie K. Norris, Paul Slusarewicz, Martin K. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The efficacy of anthelmintic treatments against populations of endoparasites infecting livestock throughout the world is decreasing. To mitigate this, the use of fecal egg counts is recommended to determine both the necessity, and to ensure the appropriate choice, of anthelmintic treatment. Traditionally, and in order to facilitate easier identification and/or enumeration, samples are analysed after separating eggs from other fecal particulates by exposing them to a solution with a density higher than that of the eggs, but lower than the remaining fecal contents. While many parasite egg flotation protocols exist, little is known about the characteristics of these eggs with respect to their movement through a flotation solution. In this study, we have demonstrated a novel method for the observation and quantification of microscopic (65–100 µm) objects as they experience unassisted flotation. This also represents, to our knowledge for the first time, that the flotation of parasite eggs has been observed and their movement characteristics quantified as they float through solution. Particle tracking and video analysis software were utilised to automatically detect and track the movement of individual eggs as they floated. Three 30 s videos and one 2 min video of each egg type were analysed. If the first 30 s of video were discounted, the differences in mean flotation speed among all videos was statistically significant between egg types (P = 0.0004). Strongyle type eggs (n = 201) moved the fastest with a mean 51.08 µm/s (95% confidence interval: 47.54–54.62). This was followed by Parascaris spp. (n = 131) and Anoplocephala perfoliata eggs (n = 322), with mean speeds of 44.43 µm/s (95% confidence interval: 39.47–49.4) and 31.11 µm/s (95% confidence interval: 29.6–32.61), respectively. This method for evaluating the mean speed of passive flotation may represent a first step towards further optimizing fecal egg flotation and be of interest to parasitologists and veterinary practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-892
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Australian Society for Parasitology


  • Anoplocephala perfoliata
  • Fecal egg counting
  • Image processing
  • Particle tracking
  • Passive flotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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