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Caprine pediculosis--a prevalence study.


Lice infestations (pediculosis), produced by biting louse (Bovicola caprae) and sucking louse (Linognathusstenopsis or L. africanus), infest goats worldwide. The blood-sucking lice (Phthiraptera: Anoplura) are permanent, host specific ectoparasites of mammals. Their Veterinary significance of ectoparasites may be two fold. First, they can be responsible for economical losses by inducing pathophysiological changes in their hosts, i.e. weight loss, hide damage and mild to severe anaemia, hypoproteinaemia, nutritional deficiencies and reduced vigour (Otter et al., 2003, Paul et al., 2012). Secondly as vectors, they can transmit louse borne pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa) to susceptible hosts (Hornok et al., 2010). Unhygienic conditions, increased population density and inadequate housing promote their spread. As reports on pediculosis in goats are scarce and prevalence data from several parts of India are lacking or outdated the present work is placed on record.

Material and Methods

A longitudinal survey in goat population of Sikar district of Rajasthan, India was undertaken from November' 2012 to April 2013 to analyse the prevalence of pediculosis. A total of 291 indigenous type goats comprising of 119 male and 172 female (in three age groups 0-6 months, 6-12 months and above 12 months) were visually and manually examined after proper restraining for external parasites particularly lice infestation. Areas sampled were the dorsal neck from behind the ear, the dewlap/ brisket area, back and rump, tail area, flanks, buttock and midline laterally as suggested by Price and Graham (1997). Lice encountered either on skin surface or attached to hair were collected in 70% alcohol using camel brush or a fine black comb. Further identification of species was conducted in laboratory according to keys described by Soulsby (1992). The cases of pediculosis were treated with Inj. Ivermectin (Neomec (a)) @ 0.2 mg/kg body weight, subcutaneously. The in contact healthy goats were also treated prophylactically in prescribed doses regimen. A structured interview with farmers was also conducted in order to evaluate stock management practices.

Results and Discussion

The screening revealed an overall 49.98% prevalence of pediculosis in indigenous goat population. The prevalence of lice infestation was higher in females (53.49%) than the male (43.70%). The age wise prevalence of Linognathus africanus has been summarised and presented in Table 1. In the present study, all goats were found to be infested with Linognathus africanus, the blood sucking lice showing dominance of species in this area. However, mixed infestation with Bovicola caprae, the biting lice was found only in one case. The lice were found mostly at medial aspect of limbs followed by base of ears, tail area and flank region. The sites of louse infestation had a mild dermal irritation in most of the cases. Moreover, pruritis along with rough hairs was found in very severe cases of pediculosis. The pediculosis was severe in goats kept in close confinement particularly during winter months and as much as 12 lice per square centimeter area were collected in medial aspect of hind leg in a clinical case (Fig. 1). The data obtained from structured interview showed that farmers were least concerned for dermal care of goats. Only 39% farmers knew the importance of skin health and were in regular contact with Veterinary services. The 47% owners had never used any drugs for prevention and control of ectoparasitic infestation.

The shape of head, with the prominent bulging ocular point's posterior to antenna, is typical for L. africanus (Fig. 2). The paratergites of B. caprae were well-sclerotized and brown in colour, had a pair of mandibles and legs had terminal tarsal claws (Fig. 3). Price and Graham (1997) documented that B. caprae and B. limbatus can be differentiated only by examining the genitalia. The male gonopods of both species, when viewed under low magnification, are conical in shape. The conical gonopods of B. limbatus have scattered long setae while posterior end of gonopods of B. caprae are densely covered with short setae. The distinctive characteristic of B. caprae is presence of two terminal flaps, which close over the genital opening (Sebei et al., 2004). Five species of lice have been described in goats throughout the world, but no records could be found of simultaneous infestations by three or more species (Sebie et al., 2004). Pediculosis caused by L. africanus has been reported in goat population (Santos et al., 2006, Sarkar et al., 2010, Hornok et al., 2010). Horak et al. (2001) have found mixed infestations of B. limbatus and L. africanus in goats. The higher prevalence of pediculosis in winter months could be attributed to socioeconomic conditions of farmers as goats were provided with minimal housing and managemental care. Besides, the extreme of weather conditions also forces animals to get in close contact during inclement weather conditions. Kumar et al. (1994) recorded 38% L. africanus infestation whereas Pratap et al. (1991) found 68% prevalence of L. africanus in the Indian goats.

Sarkar et al. (2010) had also reported the highest parasitic burden by L. africanus in goat population of Bangladesh. The differences among the results of present and earlier studies might be due to variation in the geographical locations, climatic conditions of the experimental area, methods of study and breed of goats. Ivermectin proved very effective in the given doses and the pediculosis was cured by its third dose.


The result of longitudinal survey clearly indicates the monopoly of Linognathus africanus in caprine population of Sikar district, Rajasthan and the pediculosis could be effectively controlled using the subcutaneous injection of Ivermectin in therapeutic doses.


The authors express profound thankfulness to the Dean (AVC, Bajor) and the trustees, Aastha society and Arawali group of colleges for providing necessary facilities to carry out this work.


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Hornok, S., Hofmann-Lehmannb, R., Fernandez de Merac, I.G., Melib, M.L., Elekd, V., Hajtosd, I., Repasid, A., Gonczib, E., Tanczosa, B., Farkasa, R., Lutzb, H. and de la Fuente. J. (2010). Survey on blood-sucking lice (Phthiraptera: Anoplura) of ruminants and pigs with molecular detection of Anaplasma and Rickettsia spp. Vet. Parasitol. 174: 355-58.

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Paul, A.K., Tanjim, M., Akter, S., Rahman, M.A. amd Talukder, M. (2012). Prevalence of ectoparasites in black bengal goat at the Gaibandha District of Bangladesh. Bangladesh J. Prog. Sci. Tech. 10: 005-008.

Pratap, G., Misra, S.C. and Panda, M.R. (1991). A note of the incidence of ectoparasites on Black Bengal goats at Bhubaneswar. Ind. Vet. J. 68: 92-94.

Price, M.A. and Graham, O.H. (1997). Chewing and sucking lice as parasites of mammals and birds. United States Department of Agriculture (Agricultural Research Service Technical Bulletin, No.1849).

Santos, S.B.D., Cancado P.H., Piranda, E.M. and Faccini, J.L. (2006). Infestation with Linognathusafricanus (Linognathidae) and Bovicola caprae (Trichodectidae) in goat flock of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rev. Brazilian Vet. Parasitol. 15: 41-43.

Sarkar, M., Rahman, S. A., Sarker, B. K., Anisuzzaman, N.B. and Mondal M.M.H. (2010). Epidemiology and pathology of ectoparasitic infestations in black bengal goats in Gaibandha and Mymensingh districts of Bangladesh. Bangl. J. Vet. Med. 8: 41-50.

Sebei, P.J., McCrindle, C.M.E., Green, E.D. and Turner, M.L. (2004). Use of scanning electron microscopy to confirm the identity of lice infesting communally grazed goat herds. Onderstepoort J. Vet. Res.71:87-92.

Soulsby E.J.L. (1992). Helminthes, arthropods and protozoa of domestic animals, 7th Edn., Lea and Febiger (eds), Philadelphia, USA, pp. 357-507.

Devesh Kumar Giri (1), Deepak Kumar Kashyap and Govina Dewangan

Department of Veterinary Pathology Arawali Veterinary College Rajasthan University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Bajor Sikar--332001 (Rajasthan)

(1.) Corresponding author


(a)--Brand of Intas Animal Health, Ahmedabad

Table 1--Age wise prevalence of caprine pediculosis

Age of Goat        Pediculosis       Pediculosis          Overall
                  in male goats/   in female goats/     prevalence/
                      Total             Total              Total
                   screened (%)      screened (%)      screened (%)

Below 6 months    15/34 (44.12)     19/ 39 (48.72)     34/73 (46.58)
6-12 months       28/59 (47.46)     32/57 (56.14)     60/116 (51.72)
Above 12 months    9/26 (34.62)     41/76 (53.95)     50/102 (49.02)
Total             52/119 (43.70)    92/172 (53.49)    144/291 (49.48)
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Title Annotation:Clinical Article
Author:Giri, Devesh Kumar; Kashyap, Deepak Kumar; Dewangan, Govina
Publication:Intas Polivet
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jul 1, 2013
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