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Student project could lead to fewer deworming treatments at stables

October 2, 2013


Horses at Stephens College could see fewer unnecessary deworming treatments in the future thanks to a study conducted recently by two students.

Caroline Schwerzenbach, who graduated in May, and Katie Sharp, a junior, teamed up to determine whether the horses at the equestrian center need to be dewormed twice a year, as was routine, or whether they could get by with fewer treatments.

One problem with deworming routinely is that horses can build immunity to the vaccinations over time.

Sharp and Schwerzenbach tested 51 horses by counting eggs in fecal matter. They discovered that three horses had especially high egg counts, with one being abnormally high. After deworming, the latter horse was the only to have egg counts in a follow-up test, indicating that the horse is especially vulnerable. Schwerzenbach presented the findings at an external conference, and Sharp gave a presentation on the work during Family Weekend at Stephens this past weekend.

By using the egg count method, Stephens can reduce treatments, saving money and improving the overall health of the college’s horses.

Students in the sciences at Stephens will likely to build on this study, conducting egg counts for the stables while also adding other research components to the tests, said Tara Giblin, dean of the humanities and sciences.

“This is a great example of the collaboration that happens at Stephens,” she said. “Students benefit from working in real-world settings, and they benefit by being exposed to other disciplines on campus.”

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