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Many thanks goes to Sue for allowing us to put her articles up on our forum.

For a long time now I've been encouraging goat owners to take charge of their own animals' health management. To this end, simply because it's such a wonderful diagnostic tool, I provide instruction below in how to check animals' fecal samples to determine what, if any, parasites they're harboring. By checking out the fecals you can tell very quickly if there are worm eggs present, and if so, exactly what type they are. This is important because while most worms can be controlled with a good general wormer, there are some very damaging species that will only respond to one specific type of medication. Also, sometimes in doing a fecal check (particularly in very young or debilitated goats) the sample may reveal that the culprit causing the animal's difficulty is coccidia, instead of, or in addition to, worms, in which case a treatment other than worming will be needed. And last but not least, if a sample check shows there are neither worm eggs nor coccidial oocysts present, you won't need to treat unnecessarily. In addition to that being better for your animal, it is also very cost effective!
Here's the recipe for checking the status of your own livestock fecals: (You can also do them for your dogs and cats!)

1st, you need access (preferably in your own kitchen) to a decent microscope. It doesn't need to be brand new, or high-tech, but should have its own light source, and a 'moveable stage', as well as 10X and 40X power. You will need glass slides and covers to go with it... Often used microscopes of good quality can be found in a college newspaper ad, and even in pawn shops.

2nd, it's absolutely essential to find a good (and complete!) set of clear photos to identify the various eggs and oocysts you find. The only book that I know to be a good reference for use while actually examining the slide is the Veterinary Clinical Parasitology, any one of the 1st thru 5th Editions, by either Benbrook and Sloss or Kemp and Sloss. This book is an excellent quick on-the-job reference, but sadly those 1st thru 5th Editions are now out of print. There is a 6th Edition of the same book currently on the shelves, but it has unfortunately been 'revised' by one Anne Zajac, who essentially turned it into a sort-of primer for use apparently in a beginning parasitology class, completely ending its usefulness as an aid for identifying the eggs/oocysts discovered on the slide. In my quest for a substitute for the Veterinary Clinical Parasitology book I've purchased both Foreyt's Veterinary Parasitology and Georgi's Parasitology for Veterinarians, and have checked out Vet School bookstores on various campuses to see what they have available… And while most are very informative, the 1st thru 5th Editions of Veterinary Clinical Parasitology continue to provide the only complete, on the job, reference pictures available for actual use at the side of the microscope as you work to compare pictures with parasite eggs/oocysts to identify what you see on the slide. In that book, clear, sharp pictures of the eggs and oocysts found in feces are categorized by species of animal host, so that there is a whole section on eggs/oocysts found just in dogs feces, and another section on chickens, and another on goats, and so on. On each page there is a photo of several eggs together, as you might see on your microscope slide, and then a close-up photo of a single egg of the same species, to help with details. Other parasitology books provide pictures of the larval and the adult forms of the parasite, but when doing a fecal exam the only thing you see on that slide is the egg or oocyst... The larval and adult stages are busy doing damage in other parts of the body (ie: lungworms in lungs, heartworms in heart, strongyles in intestines), or perhaps still in the vector outside the body, thus not in the feces. The fact is that you simply can't identify the kind of egg or oocyst you are looking at on the slide unless you actually have a good, clear picture to compare it with. And it goes without saying that if you can't accurately identify the egg/oocyst, then you won't know what treatment is best for wiping it out. So I urge you to try to locate, in a used educational bookstore or on the Internet, a copy of one of those early editions of Veterinary Clinical Parasitology. Several excellent book-oriented search engines provide access to used and out-of-print bookstores' inventories… But the current high demand for those 1st thru 5th Editions of Veterinary Clinical Parasitology by so many people who want to take charge of this aspect of their animals' health management makes dedication to the search essential, because when they become available on the internet they are snapped up in a hurry. http://www.ebay.com/ occasionally has one up for auction, but due to the upsurge of interest in learning how to check livestock and domestic pet fecals at home, the price for it has skyrocketed.

Because it's so hard to find a copy of those 1st thru 5th Editions of Veterinary Clinical parasitology, I've scanned the goat oocysts/eggs to help people get started while looking for one. Just contact me at [email protected] and I'll be happy to email the picture attachments to you for use while you continue your search. Additionally, the A Pacapacas Farm website now has made the wonderful Paul Miller (Ocicat) page, "ParaSite", containing pictures sorted by host species of eggs and oocysts of goats, sheep, cattle, cats and dogs, available at http://www.apacapacas.com/parasites/, for which we are eternally grateful!

3rd, either buy, or make up, a quantity of Egg Flotation Solution, and locate some Fecalyzer containers in which to prepare the samples. Get some microscope glass slides and covers as well... you will need a small box of each. If you don't have another source, the Revival catalog, http://www.revivalanimal.com/ or 1-800-786-4751, has the Fecasol, Fecal flotation system tubes, Glass microscope slides, and Glass cover slips available both in their catalog and on their website.

In using a special fecal solution the basic idea is that the solution must be heavier than the eggs so the eggs will float to the top, as this is a 'floatation' method of producing a slide sample to view under the microscope. Flotation Solution can also be home-made using the following methods:

To make a saturated solution of salt (table salt) for fecal flotation take a glass container with a good closure and fill it partially full of water (tap water will do nicely). Add a quantity of salt to the water. Add enough salt so that undissolved salt remains in the bottom of the container. Check and stir the solution in the container every now and then and add more salt if there isn't a generous layer of salt still on the bottom. You can continue the process at room temperature over a period of 24 hours or so, or speed up the process by heating gently. The liquid is considered saturated when no more salt crystals will dissolve in it with continued stirring. The fluid is then withdrawn from the mixing container, leaving the undissolved sediment behind. The saturated salt solution is now ready to use in preparation of the sample for placement on the slide. Excess solution can be stored in the refrigerator for further use in the near future. One caveat regarding the salt solution: It has a tendency to dehydrate the fecal sample specimen if you don't work quickly. Saturated sugar solution can be made the same way as salt solution. A suggestion has been made that a small amount of formaldehyde added to the sugar solution will keep it from spoiling. This saturated solution should also be refrigerated for further use in the near future. You don't need any special equipment to make these saturated solutions since the undissolved material at the bottom of the container is your proof that the solution is saturated. I am told that a saturated solution can also be made of magnesium sulfate (Epsom Salts) in the manner previously described and that it, too, works well for flotation.

4th, gather all the materials together, and collect a small amount (about 3/4 teaspoon?) of fresh, normal-consistency poop (or fecal matter if that sounds better to you), place it in the fecalyzer container, pulverize (mash) it, and dilute it (I stir it with a swizzle stick) with flotation solution. Fill the container to all but overflowing, blot off any foam that rises to the surface, and then carefully cover it with a tiny glass cover slip. Wait about 20 minutes to give the eggs plenty of time to rise to the top of the solution, and then carefully lift the cover plate off, keeping it level so that a drop of liquid remains on its underside. Set it on the glass slide, place the prepared slide under the lens (which is set on the lowest microscope power - 10X10), open up the book to the chapter covering parasite eggs / oocysts found in goats / sheep (great visuals there), sit down, and enjoy the view! It helps if you enjoy the challenge of finding things under a microscope, or have a good friend who does and will guide you.

5th, once you have discovered which parasite(s) are present, do your research into the various wormers /coccidiostats, etc, and find which one(s) are most effective in treating the specific parasites you've found in your animals.

6th, find and administer the correct product!

BTW: The materials needed, including the book but not including the microscope (which depends on what a good deal you can get on one somewhere) should cost in the neighborhood of $50. That's roughly what 4-5 fecals done professionally would cost. And the best part is that doing them yourself gives you a wonderful sense of accomplishment and independence!

(Please feel free to share this information with other interested parties, but do not reproduce the article for publication without my specific permission. Thank you. Sue Reith.)
See Also: Worms: Misdirected Hysteria ???

That's it! Enjoy!

Sue Reith
Carmelita Toggs
Bainbridge Island WA
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