Przewalski’s horse suffered fatal parasite-related gut obstruction

A Przewalski's horse in Khustain Nuruu National Park, Mongolia. Photo: Chinneeb CC BY-SA 3.0/ via Wikipedia
A Przewalski’s horse in Khustain Nuruu National Park, Mongolia. Photo: Chinneeb CC BY-SA 3.0/ via Wikipedia

A Przewalski’s horse which died at a nature reserve in China had suffered a gut obstruction arising from a parasitic infection, it has been reported.

The nature of the horse’s parasite burden has been described in a case report in the journal, Equine Veterinary Education.

The body of the Przewalski’s horse was transported from the Kalamaili Nature Reserve to the College of Nature Conservation at the Beijing Forestry University to determine the cause of death.

The researchers said the animal had been subjected to a necropsy before being transported to the college. The entire digestive tract had been removed in that examination but was not opened to reduce the possible loss of parasites.

The three researchers who examined the digestive tract found ascarids in the intestines, and bots in the mouth and stomach.

The ascarids were identified as being Parascaris species. and were associated with a twisting of the intestine, resulting in an obstruction.

A total of two Parascaris parasites were found in the stomach, one in the duodenum, and 106 in the intestines.

Bots in the digestive tract were identified as third-stage larvae of Gasterophilus pecorum, Gasterophilus nigricornis and Gasterophilus nasalis, which may have been associated with stomach ulcers suffered by the horse. They found 331 larvae of G. pecorum attached to the lining of the mouth and 2014 attached to the stomach lining.

There were 23 third-stage larvae of G. nigricornis and 20 third-stage larvae of G. nasalis.

“The possibility of the presence of these parasites should not be overlooked in Przewalski horses as these parasites may be responsible for severe clinical signs in infected animals,” the study team said.

Liu, S.-H., Hu, D.-F. and Li, K. (2016), Parasites observed in the proximal alimentary tract of a Przewalski’s horse in China. Equine Veterinary Education. doi: 10.1111/eve.12593
The abstract can be read here

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