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Prevalence of liver fluke infection in horses in Ireland

A. Quigley, M. Sekiya, S. Egan, A. Wolfe, C. Negredo, G. Mulcahy

Fasciola hepatica is a common trematode parasite of livestock in Ireland, causing significant economic losses and affecting animal welfare. F hepatica infection in horses may be under reported as there is currently no rapid or reliable method of diagnosis. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of F hepatica in Irish horses and the diagnostic potential of an indirect ELISA.

Two hundred horses were examined at an abattoir between May 2013 and April 2014. Blood was collected for haematology and blood biochemistry, and to measure serum liver enzyme activities. The serum samples were run on an ELISA based on the recombinant version of the major F hepatica excretory secretion protein. Faeces was collected and sedimented for egg counts using the McMaster technique. The livers of 35 horses were also examined histologically for the presence of fluke.

In total, 9.5 per cent (19/200) of the horses were positive for F hepatica infection. Of these 19 horses, histological liver examination revealed grade 6 (ie, adult fluke found in the liver) in 16 horses. The fluke status was not significantly associated with any of the blood parameters measured. Six of the 19 horses were found to be positive for F hepatica …

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