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Vet Parasitol. 1996 Oct 25;65(3-4):259-68.

Susceptibility of Suffolk and Gulf Coast Native suckling lambs to naturally acquired strongylate nematode infection.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge 70803, USA.


Three trials compared responses to naturally-acquired strongylate nematode infection between suckling Suffolk and Gulf Coast Native (Native) lambs which grazed together. In Trial 1 (1992), infection in 14 lambs of each breed was monitored from birth to 12 weeks of age using fecal egg count (FEC) and blood packed cell volume (PCV). In Trial 2 (1993), two age-matched lambs of each breed were sacrificed at seven and ten weeks of age to estimate nematode burdens. In Trial 3 (1994), infection in 18 lambs of each breed was monitored (FEC, PCV, white blood cell count, differential leukocyte count, and anti-Haemonchus contortus immunoglobulin level) from birth to 8 weeks of age, at which time six age-matched lambs of each breed were sacrificed to estimate nematode burdens. The remaining 24 lambs were monitored until 12 weeks of age. In both Trials 1 and 3, infection in Native lambs peaked and then declined between 6-10 weeks of age. Infection in Suffolk lambs continued to increase as evidenced by increasing FEC with concomitant reduction in PCV, higher morbidity and mortality (Trial 1), and number of anthelmintic treatments required (Trial 3). In Trials 2 and 3, the principal nematode found at necropsy was H. contortus, and infection level was consistently lower (> 64%) in Native compared with Suffolk lambs. In Trial 3, there was no difference between breeds for WBC, any leukocyte type, or anti-H. contortus immunoglobulin level. These results demonstrated that suckling Native lambs developed resistance to H. contortus infection during their first exposure to infection at an age when they are considered immune incompetent and colostrally transferred anti-H. contortus immunoglobulin did not appear to be involved in the resistance.

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