Effect of Haemonchus contortus Infection on the Cellular Innate Immune Response of Florida Cracker Sheep During the Peripartum Period

Student Classification

Makenzie Harrison, 3rd-year, Department of Animal Science

Faculty Mentor

Professor Zaira M. Estrada Reyes, Department of Animal Science


Department of Animal Science

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2023


Florida cracker sheep are one of the oldest breeds in the United states and are known for their great resistance to parasites. The objective of this research was to evaluate the effects of Haemonchus contortus infection on the cellular innate immune response of pregnant ewes during the peripartum period. A total of eight ewes were used for this study. Experimental sheep were allocated into infected (n = 4) and noninfected (n = 4, control) groups. The infected group was orally administered 10,000 H. contortus larvae. Phenotypic records for the experimental sheep included fecal egg count (FEC), FAMACHA score (FAM), body condition score (BCS), and average daily gain. Hematological parameters were collected at 0 hours, 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours, and 3, 7, and 14 days post infection. For the infected group, an increase in white blood cell count was observed at 2 and 6 hpi, and 7 dpi when compared to the control group. Similar results were observed for neutrophil count. The infected ewes showed an increase for neutrophil counts at 2 and 6 hpi, and 3 and 7 dpi.The observed increase in neutrophil levels of infected animals could be one of the first cellular mechanisms associated with the innate immune response.

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