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Evaluation of goat eye mucous membrane scoring for determination of the need for anthelmintic treatment

S. P. Hart1, W. Pomroy2, and T. A. Gipson1

1E (Kika) de la Garza American Institute for Goat Research, Langston University, OK
2Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

The major gastrointestinal parasite of goats in the southern U.S. is Haemonchus contortus, which is hematophagus, causes anemia, and therefore affects eye mucous membrane color (EMMC). The objective of this study was to evaluate EMMC as an indicator of the need for anthelmintic treatment. EMMC on the inside of the lower eyelid was scored using a color chart with four gradations of color (1 = dark, 4 = pale). EMMC was also captured with a digital camera with the values for red, blue and green determined from a selected digital picture area. Goats (n = 167) on a variety of pasture studies were evaluated for packed cell volume (PCV; microhematocrit) and fecal egg count (FEC; eggs/gram [epg]; McMaster). Data were analyzed by 2 analysis and GLM procedures. Fecal egg counts were different for eye scores (P < 0.001), with an average of 212, 596, 816, and 2,077 epg for the scores 1 through 4, respectively. FEC were greater (P < 0.01) for a score of 4 than for other scores. EMMC scores correctly identified 22 of 30 animals with FEC greater than 2,000 (sensitivity 73%) but included 47 animals with FEC less than 2,000 (specificity 70%). The red, blue, and green digital values from the image were poorly correlated to FEC or PCV (R2 < 0.11). Goats with a score of 4 had lower PCV than scores of 3 or less (P < 0.01; 23, 26, 29, and 29%, respectively). Eye scores of 4 correctly identified 19 of 25 animals with PCV < 20% (sensitivity of 76%), but also included 50 animals with PCV > 20% (specificity of 75%). In conclusion, scoring EMMC with a chart correctly identified most animals needing anthelmintic treatment, but included a significant proportion not requiring treatment.


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