A neglected and emerging helminthosis: a case of equine fasciolosis

Although fasciolosis is an important livestock disease worldwide, the public health importance of human fasciolosis has increased in recent years and it is recognised as an important re-emerging zoonotic disease, its epidemiology and pathogenicity in donkeys, and the epidemiological role they may play have not been determined.


To investigate the epidemiology and pathogenicity of fasciolosis in donkeys.

Study design

Cross-sectional coprological and retrospective post-mortem study.


Faecal samples collected from 803 randomly selected working donkeys from the central region of Ethiopia were analysed by a sedimentation-centrifugation-flotation technique. Further data on liver-flukes and associated pathologies were obtained by routine post mortem examinations of 112 donkeys, subjected to euthanasia on welfare grounds or died. Data were analysed using a generalised linear model and multivariate binary logistic regression in R statistical package with significance level of statistical tests set at P<0.05.


Infection prevalences of 44.4% and 41.9% were obtained in coprologically and post mortem examined donkeys, respectively, irrespective of their age. Both Fasciola hepatica and Fasciola gigantica were identified with the mean infection intensity of 30 flukes. Older donkeys (≥8 years) were found harbouring a significantly higher worm burden (P<0.0001). Gross and histopathologies of hyperplasia and thickening of the bile ducts, fibrosis of large portal areas and irregular bile duct proliferation and hypertrophy were noted.


The high infection prevalence of fasciolosis and the associated hepatic pathologies in working donkeys shows not only the susceptibility of donkeys and the impact it has on their health, but also indicates the important role they can play in the epidemiology of both livestock and human fasciolosis. These further demonstrate the need for these animals to be considered in the overall epidemiological studies and for sound control strategies and prevention of fasciolosis.

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