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Fecal testing techniques for finding goat internal parasite eggs and larvae

By Michele Konnersman DVM

I have compiled the following information about goat parasite eggs and larvae for all goat keepers that would like to check their own goat fecal samples for parasites. Part One covers identification and relative size of eggs and larvae, fecal tests to use to find specific eggs and larvae, and the fecal smear technique. Many parasite eggs can be seen in a fecal smear. Even lungworm larvae can be found. Part Two will cover the fecal float technique, making a fecal float solution, a fecal sediment technique for finding liver flukes and the Baermann technique for concentrating lungworm larvae.

Methods used to find parasite eggs
and larvae in fecal samples

Cryptosporidia: Fecal smear and float. A carbol fuchsin stain makes them easier to see because they do not stain.

Giardia: Fecal smear

Eimeria: Fecal float

Strongyloides: Fecal float

Haemonchus, Trichostrongylus, Ostertagia all have similar size eggs: Fecal float

Nematodirus: Fecal float

Monezia: Fecal float and smear. Tapeworm segments can sometimes be seen in the fecal sample.

Dicrocoelium: Fecal sediment

Fasciola hepatica: Fecal sediment

Dictyocaulus: Baermann Technique and fecal smear

Baermann Technique and fecal smear

Fecal smear

This is the simplest way to see parasite eggs and larvae in a fecal sample.

To set up a fecal smear, put a drop of warm water into the middle of a glass microscope slide. Dip a toothpick into the center of a fresh, moist fecal pellet, and then stir the sample into the drop on the slide. The water should turn slightly cloudy, not dark. There should be no large pieces of feces or other debris in the water drop after mixing. Place a cover slip gently onto the drop to avoid making bubbles. Do not press down on the cover slip. That would crush any parasite eggs in the sample. Examine the slide under the microscope. To see lungworm larvae, wait a few minutes to check the slide and then look all around the edges of the cover slip.

Fecal Float

Make your own fecal float solution by placing 12 fluid ounces of water into the upper half of a double boiler. Heat the water until the water in the lower half of the double boiler is near boiling. Stir 1 pound of sugar slowly into the water in the upper half of the double boiler. Stir until all sugar is dissolved. Remove the solution from the double boiler and let cool to room temperature. To preserve the sugar solution for long periods, add 6 ml of 40% formaldehyde to the mix.

In a paper cup, mix 1-2 grams of feces with 15 ml of sugar solution and stir well. Pour the mix through a strainer into another paper cup. Pour the strained sample from the paper cup into a test tube that is secured in an upright position. Fill the test tube up to the top so that when you put a cover slip onto the test tube, the fluid will just contact the cover slip, but not spill over. Wait 20 minutes, then carefully lift the cover slip straight up and gently place it onto the center of a microscope slide. Bubbles will form if the cover slip is placed to quickly. Do not push down on the cover slip because that would crush the eggs. The slide is ready to examine under the microscope.

Fecal Sediment for liver flukes

Make a detergent solution by mixing 5 ml of liquid dish detergent with 34 ounces of water. Mix the fecal sample with enough tap water to form a paste. Put about 1 gram of the fecal paste into a paper cup and add 15 ml of detergent solution and mix with a stirring stick. Strain this mix through a strainer into a large test tube. Rinse the cup and strainer again with detergent solution until the large test tube is full. Let this mix stand for about 15 minutes. Pour off 3/4 of the liquid in the test tube. Again, rinse the fecal sample in the strainer with detergent solution into the test tube to fill it. Let the tube stand for 15 more minutes. Then pour off the liquid, leaving 2-3 ml, and trying not to stir up the sediment at the bottom of the tube. Add 2 drops of tincture of iodine to the sediment in the tube and let stand 5 minutes. Using a long pipette, draw up the sediment and place a drop in the center of one or more slides, and gently cover with cover slips. The more slides that you examine, the more chances you have of seeing fluke eggs.

Baermann Technique for finding lungworm larvae

Purchase one or more plastic champagne glasses which are usually sold at liquor stores or grocery stores in the liquor department. Place a large gauze pad or a triple layer of cheesecloth cut into a 4" by 4" square into the empty champagne glass. Make sure that the corners of the cloth lay over the rim of the glass. Place a fecal sample onto the cloth in the cup so that the cup is no more than half full. Pour warm water into the cup so that the water just covers the fecal sample. Leave this set up undisturbed for eight hours. Then, lift one corner of the cloth with tweezers and pass a long pipette to the very bottom of the stem of the glass, squeezing the bulb of the pipette as you go toward the bottom. At the very bottom of the glass, slowly release pressure on the bulb so that a few drops of liquid are drawn up into the pipette. Hold onto the bulb with constant pressure so that the liquid sample from the glass bottom is the only liquid that enters the pipette. Place a drop of the sample onto the center of a glass slide. Cover the drop slowly with a cover slip and examine the slide under the microscope. The lungworm larvae can be visible all over the slide surface, but more will be seen at the edges of the cover slip.

Size comparison of parasite eggs
and larvae found in goat feces

Size comparison of parasite eggs and larvae found in goat feces

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