Reference intervals for biochemical and haematological parameters in mature domestic donkeys (equus asinus) in the UK

Reference intervals (RIs) for haematology and serum biochemistry for donkeys in a temperate climate have been previously published using blood sample results from the resident population of a large donkey shelter in the UK. Periodic review of reference intervals is recommended to ensure their applicability to the patient population and changes in laboratory methods and technologies. The current study aimed to revise the previously published haematology and serum biochemistry values for the adult domestic donkey (Equus asinus) in the UK in the light of a change in analytical equipment at The Donkey Sanctuary laboratory, but also to refine the demography of the sample population with respect to age, physiology and clinical history. Clinical pathology results from 138 clinically healthy mature (4–24 years inclusive) female and castrated male donkeys selected from the resident population of The Donkey Sanctuary, were analysed retrospectively. The animals were blood sampled during the period February 2008 to June 2011 as part of a routine health screen prior to rehoming. Results for a total of 38 biochemical and haematological parameters were analysed including 3 previously unreferenced parameters in addition to those assessed in the previous study. The new reference intervals and median values show very poor transferability with recently derived reference intervals for non-Thoroughbred horses and only limited transferability with reference intervals previously published for donkeys in the UK. Of particular note is a marked reduction in the upper reference limit for triglycerides of 2.8 mmol/l (from 4.3 mmol/l) since this parameter is used to decide when donkeys are at risk of developing hyperlipaemia. This study demonstrates the value of intermittent review of reference intervals and refinement of study populations. Notwithstanding the caution with which reference interval data from different laboratories should be compared, the lack of transferability of results between donkeys and horses highlights the importance of use of species-appropriate reference intervals for clinical decision-making.

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Gatrointestinal parasite burden, body condition and haematological values in equines in the humid tropical areas of Mexico

M. P. Valdez-Cruz
Mariano Hernandez-Gil
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Working equines in Mexico are distributed throughout the territory, but the management practices and the health and welfare conditions differ widely between regions depending on people's customs and specific climate conditions. The Eastern coast of México has an important equine population used for work in rural production systems. Something that owners and animal workers are concerned about is how the gastrointestinal parasite burden affects the equines nutritional status and health. This is because parasite reinfestations are most likely to occur in hot, humid climates. However, there are few reliable data to support this and the lack of information makes it difficult to design treating strategies and extension activities to ensure the health and welfare of equines in these areas. To address this, a trial was designed to determine the prevalence of animals infected with gastrointestinal nematodes, the parasite burdens and their effects on the nutritional status and haematological values of working equines from a tropical area of Mexico. One hundred and twelve equines were randomly selected in five different villages of the area. One sample of faeces and one sample of blood (in a tube containing EDTA) were obtained from every animal. Gastrointestinal parasite burden using the McMaster technique, proportions of nematodes species present through a coproculture, packed cell volume, total plasma proteins, red blood cell count and white blood cell count, were measured. The nutritional status was assessed using body condition score. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics. All calculations were done per species (horses, donkeys and mules) and community (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). Prevalence of infected equines was higher than 90%. The most common nematode species was Strongylus vulgaris. The parasite burden was low to moderate in horses and donkeys, higher in mules; however, it did not affect the body condition, nor the haematological values (P>0.05). Results suggest that in spite of the high prevalence and parasite burdens, equines involved in this trial are not being seriously affected, as shown by the body condition and haematological parameters.

Published as conference proceedings
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