Tapeworm infection is a significant risk factor for spasmodic colic and ileal impaction colic in the horse

Equine Vet J. 1998 May;30(3):194-9. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-3306.1998.tb04487.x.


The association between the equine intestinal tapeworm Anoplocephala perfoliata and specific types of intestinal disease was investigated by matched case-control study using coprological and serological diagnosis. We have previously shown that the host IgG(T) response to 12/13 kDa antigens of A. perfoliata correlates well with infection intensity, therefore this antibody response was used to investigate the risk of colic at different levels of parasite infection intensity. One hundred and three spasmodic colic cases with an equal number of controls matched for age, breed and gender, and 20 ileal impaction cases each with 2 similarly matched controls were obtained. Cases of spasmodic colic were much more likely (odds ratio = 8.0) to be associated with A. perfoliata infection detected coprologically than controls. Serological diagnosis revealed an increasing risk of spasmodic colic with increasing infection intensity. Calculation of an aetiological fraction suggests that 22% of spasmodic colic cases in this study were tapeworm associated. No significant association was found between colic and strongyle egg count. Conditional logistic regression analysis demonstrated that the relationship between colic and A. perfoliata infection intensity was not confounded by strongyle egg count and there was a linear relationship between infection intensity and the log-odds of spasmodic colic. For cases of ileal impaction, a strong association was found between colic and A. perfoliata as diagnosed by coprological means (odds ratio of 34.0). Serological diagnosis also revealed a strong association that increased with higher levels of infection intensity (odds ratio = 26.0). The aetiological fraction for the ileal impaction data suggests that 81% of the ileal impaction cases in this study were tapeworm associated. This study concludes that A. perfoliata is a significant risk factor for spasmodic colic and ileal impaction colic in the horse; and that the risk of spasmodic colic increases with infection intensity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Helminth / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cestoda / growth & development
  • Cestoda / immunology
  • Cestode Infections / complications
  • Cestode Infections / parasitology
  • Cestode Infections / veterinary*
  • Colic / parasitology
  • Colic / veterinary*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel / veterinary
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / veterinary
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Female
  • Horse Diseases / parasitology*
  • Horse Diseases / physiopathology
  • Horses
  • Ileal Diseases / parasitology
  • Ileal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Ileal Diseases / veterinary*
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic / complications
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic / parasitology
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic / veterinary*
  • Intestinal Obstruction / parasitology
  • Intestinal Obstruction / physiopathology
  • Intestinal Obstruction / veterinary*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Parasite Egg Count / veterinary
  • Risk Factors
  • Spasm / veterinary
  • Strongyle Infections, Equine / complications
  • Strongyle Infections, Equine / parasitology


  • Antibodies, Helminth
  • Immunoglobulin G