A survey of parasitic helminths in horses from communal farms in the northeastern Free State Province of South Africa
Masangane, Flatha Euginia Sarah
MetadataShow full item record
A survey of helminthes occurring in horses at Kestell in the northeastern region of the Free State Province was conducted for a period of ten months (June 2002-March 2003). The aim was to determine the factors influencing helminth parasites infections and to record the ticks of veterinary importance in horses in the northeastern Free State. Blood, fecal samples and ticks were collected from 24 horses on the same farms every month for a period of ten months. The age of horses was between five months and seven years. Collection was done from both males and females. Fecal samples were collected from horses for identification of helminthes, blood was collected to perform packed cell volume and ticks were collected for identification and recordings. McMaster, coprological and Visser sieve techniques were used for egg counts. A total of three helminth species and a protozoan were recovered. Dominating species were strongyle; with egg per gram (EPG) values ranging between 0 and 4400. An R test showed that there was significant difference between age (p = 0.0218), seasonality (p< 0.0001) and physical conditions (p < 0.0001) in the prevalence of strongyle. This means that the younger horses had higher infestation levels; colder months had lower infestation rates and the better the physical condition of the horse the lower the infestation. It also showed that there is a strong linear relationship between packed cell volume (PCV) and (r = - 0.23465; p- value= 0.0004). Larval identification was done through preparation of fecal cultures. Small strongyle larvae made up more than 80% of larval cultures in all samples cultured. Blood samples were collected to conduct a PCV test. The readings were found to be normal ranging between 24 and 44. Rhipicephalus evertsi evertsi was were the only two tick species collected from the horses. A questionnaire survey was concurrently carried out to determine the influence of socio-economic factors on the management of horses, which may favour helminth infestation in these species. From the owners interviewed 35.8% were pensioners and unemployed. A total of 67% of horse owners utilize their horses everyday for transport, but the frequency range from once or twice a week. Only 39% of owners use herbal or natural product or drugs to treat their animals, whereas 23% use commercial products. Horses belonging to 90% of the owners were given lucem hay all year round, a few owners fed their horses on mealies and other utilized the veld to feed their horses. The disease conditions reported were worms, ticks, eye lesion, hoof problems, skin problem and infectious diseases. 45% of owners asked their friends or neighbours who had knowledge of horses for advice when their animals became sick and 30% treat the animals themselves. 19% reported that they did nothing and 6% took their animals to the state veterinarian. Approximately 3% made use of animal health inspectors, private veterinarians and traditional healers. Many owners (87%) allowed their horses to roam free during the day and about 84% of owners kept their horses in kraals or small camps during the night. The information gathered from this study provides the first documentation study on helminthes of veterinary importance in horses in the northeastern Free State.