Background: Strongylus vulgaris has become a rare parasite in Germany during the past 50 years due to the practice of frequent prophylactic anthelmintic therapy. To date, the emerging development of resistance in Cyathostominae and Parascaris spp. to numerous equine anthelmintics has changed deworming management and the frequency of anthelmintic usage. In this regard, reliable detection of parasitic infections, especially of the highly pathogenic S. vulgaris is essential. In the current study, two diagnostic methods for the detection of infections with S. vulgaris were compared and information on the occurrence of this parasite in German horses was gained. For this purpose, faecal samples of 501 horses were screened for S. vulgaris with real-time PCR and an additional larval culture was performed in samples of 278 horses. A subset of 26 horses underwent multiple follow-up examinations with both methods in order to evaluate both the persistence of S. vulgaris infections and the reproducibility of each diagnostic method.
Results: The real-time PCR revealed S. vulgaris-DNA in ten of 501 investigated equine samples (1.9%). The larval culture demonstrated larvae of S. vulgaris in three of the 278 samples (1.1%). A direct comparison of the two methods was possible in 321 samples including 43 follow-up examinations with the result of 11 S. vulgaris-positive samples by real-time PCR and 4 S. vulgaris-positive samples by larval culture. The McNemar’s test (p-value = 0.016) revealed a significant difference and the kappa values (0.525) showed a moderate agreement between real-time PCR and larval culture.
Conclusions: The real-time PCR detected a significantly higher proportion of positives of S. vulgaris compared to larval culture and should thus be considered as a routine diagnostic method for the detection of S. vulgaris in equine samples.
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Funding for this work was provided by the diagnostic laboratory of the Institute of Comparative Tropical Medicine and Parasitology.
Raw data (Excel file) is available from the corresponding author (Alexandra Kaspar) upon request.
Kaspar, A.; Pfister, K.; Nielsen, Martin K.; Silaghi, C.; Fink, H.; and Scheuerle, M. C., "Detection of Strongylus vulgaris in Equine Faecal Samples by Real-Time PCR and Larval Culture – Method Comparison and Occurrence Assessment" (2017). Veterinary Science Faculty Publications. 38.