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Inhomogeneity of the density of Parascaris spp. eggs in faeces of individual foals and the use of hypothesis testing for treatment decision making
- Wilkes, E.J.A., Cowling, A., Woodgate, R.G., Hughes, K.J.
- Veterinary parasitology 2016 v.229 pp. 131-138
- Parascaris, anthelmintics, binomial distribution, confidence interval, decision making, eggs, fecal egg count, feces, foals, magnesium sulfate, monitoring, parasites, statistical inference
- Faecal egg counts (FEC) are used widely for monitoring of parasite infection in animals, treatment decision-making and estimation of anthelmintic efficacy. When a single count or sample mean is used as a point estimate of the expectation of the egg distribution over some time interval, the variability in the egg density is not accounted for. Although variability, including quantifying sources, of egg count data has been described, the spatiotemporal distribution of nematode eggs in faeces is not well understood. We believe that statistical inference about the mean egg count for treatment decision-making has not been used previously. The aim of this study was to examine the density of Parascaris eggs in solution and faeces and to describe the use of hypothesis testing for decision-making. Faeces from two foals with Parascaris burdens were mixed with magnesium sulphate solution and 30 McMaster chambers were examined to determine the egg distribution in a well-mixed solution. To examine the distribution of eggs in faeces from an individual animal, three faecal piles from a foal with a known Parascaris burden were obtained, from which 81 counts were performed. A single faecal sample was also collected daily from 20 foals on three consecutive days and a FEC was performed on three separate portions of each sample. As appropriate, Poisson or negative binomial confidence intervals for the distribution mean were calculated. Parascaris eggs in a well-mixed solution conformed to a homogeneous Poisson process, while the egg density in faeces was not homogeneous, but aggregated. This study provides an extension from homogeneous to inhomogeneous Poisson processes, leading to an understanding of why Poisson and negative binomial distributions correspondingly provide a good fit for egg count data. The application of one-sided hypothesis tests for decision-making is presented.