EQUUS - - Eq Medical Front -

A new study sug­gests that it may one day be pos­si­ble to use a sim­ple stall-side blood test to screen horses for par­a­site bur­dens.

Work­ing at the Univer­sity of Glas­gow, re­searchers used a test cur­rently avail­able through vet­eri­nar­i­ans called “Suc­ceed Equine Fe­cal Blood Test” to look for the pres­ence of the blood pro­tein al­bu­min in fresh ma­nure sam­ples from 20 horses. “A small amount of al­bu­min is al­ways lost into the in­tes­tine,” says Ni­cola Ker­byson, BVMS, Cert AVP (EM), MRCVS. “But this is in­creased in cases of in­testi­nal in­flam­ma­tion, which would oc­cur in re­sponse to a par­a­site bur­den.”

The horses’ ma­nure was col­lected for test­ing twice, once be­fore de­worm­ing and once af­ter­ward. In ad­di­tion to test­ing for al­bu­min, the pre­lim­i­nary sam­ple was an­a­lyzed for the pres­ence of par­a­site eggs. The data showed that higher al­bu­min lev­els were sig­nif­i­cantly more likely to be de­tected prior to an­thelmintic treat­ment, but a di­rect cor­re­la­tion to par­a­site bur­den was not es­tab­lished.

“We think there may be an as­so­ci­a­tion [be­tween al­bu­min level and par­a­site bur­den] but our num­bers did not have enough power to rep­re­sent this,” says Ker­byson, who adds that the group is cur­rently un­der­tak­ing a much larger study in the hopes of mak­ing a more de­fin­i­tive con­nec­tion.

“This test may be of use in the fu­ture to be an early pre­dic­tor of par­a­site bur­den, which can be per­formed at the sta­ble yard more rapidly than a fe­cal egg count,” says Ker­byson. “It may be use­ful as a screen­ing test to rule out horses with­out a par­a­site bur­den. Al­bu­min could ap­pear in the fe­ces with any cause of colonic in­flam­ma­tion, such as ul­cer­a­tion or col­i­tis. There­fore, it is more likely to be used as a screen­ing test to rule out a high par­a­site bur­den than as a spe­cific in­di­ca­tor of the in­ten­sity of an in­di­vid­ual’s bur­den.”

Ref­er­ence: “The ef­fect of par­a­site bur­den on fae­cally ex­creted al­bu­min in horses,” Amer­i­can Col­lege of Vet­eri­nary In­ter­nal Medicine Fo­rum poster, June 2014

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