Risk factor meta-analysis and Bayesian estimation of genetic parameters and breeding values for hypersensibility to cutaneous habronematidosis in donkeys

Francisco Javier Navas González, Jordi Jordana Vidal, María Esperanza Camacho Vallejo, Jose Manuel León Jurado, Manuel Rafael de la Haba Giraldo, Cecilio Barba Capote, Juan Vicente Delgado Bermejo

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2 Citations (Scopus)


© 2018 Elsevier B.V. Cutaneous habronematidosis (CH) is a highly prevalent seasonally recurrent skin disease that affects donkeys as a result from the action of spirurid stomach worm larvae. Carrier flies mistakenly deposit these larvae on previous skin lesions or on the moisture of natural orifices, causing distress and inflicting relapsing wounds to the animals. First, we carried out a meta-analysis of the predisposing factors that could condition the development of CH in Andalusian donkeys. Second, basing on the empirical existence of an inter and intrafamilial variation previously addressed by owners, we isolated the genetic background behind the hypersensibility to this parasitological disease. To this aim, we designed a Bayesian linear model (BLM) to estimate the breeding values and genetic parameters for the hypersensibility to CH as a way to infer the potential selection suitability of this trait, seeking the improvement of donkey conservation programs. We studied the historical record of the cases of CH of 765 donkeys from 1984 to 2017. Fixed effects included birth year, birth season, sex, farm/owner, and husbandry system. Age was included as a linear and quadratic covariate. Although the effects of birth season and birth year were statistically non-significant (P > 0.05), their respective interactions with sex and farm/owner were statistically significant (P < 0.01), what translated into an increase of 40.5% in the specificity and of 0.6% of the sensibility of the model designed, when such interactions were included. Our BLM reported highly accurate genetic parameters as suggested by the low error of around 0.005, and the 95% credible interval for the heritability of ±0.0012. The CH hypersensibility heritability was 0.0346. The value of 0.1232 for additive genetic variance addresses a relatively low genetic variation in the Andalusian donkey breed. Our results suggest that farms managed under extensive husbandry conditions are the most protective ones against developing CH. Furthermore, these results provide evidence of the lack of repercussion of other factors such as age or sex. Potentially considering CH hypersensibility as a negative selection aimed goal in donkey breeding programs, may turn into a measure to improve animal welfare indirectly. However, the low heritability value makes it compulsory to control environmental factors to ensure the effectiveness of the breeding measures implemented to obtain individuals that may genetically be less prone to develop the condition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-16
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2018


  • Habronematidosis
  • Heritability
  • Parasitosis hypersensibility
  • Summer sores
  • Variance components


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