Livestock Research for Rural Development 23 (5) 2011 Notes to Authors LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Intestinal parasitic infections of camels in the agro and pastoral areas of northern Tanzania

E S Swai, W Moshy, D Mshanga, J Lutatina and S Bwanga

Veterinary Investigation Centre, PO Box 1068, Arusha, Tanzania.


The prevalence of faecal intestinal parasite eggs and species spectrum was studied in relation to host and management variables in camels in the northern Tanzania. A total of 193 camels of all age and sex were examined between June and August 2010. Collected faecal samples were processed by sedimentation and floatation methods and then examined for helminth eggs. Coprological examination revealed that 62.7 %( n=121) of the camels excreted helminth eggs in their faeces.


Eleven types of helminth/protozoan parasites eggs/oocyst encountered in descending order of prevalence were, Strongylus sp 89.2%, Trichostrongylus sp 27.3%, coccidia 9.9%, Strongyloides sp 6.6%, Anaplocephala sp 3.3%, Oxyuris sp 2.5%, Dictyocaulus sp 2.5%, Gastrodiscus sp 2.5%, Parascaris sp 1.65%, Trichonema sp 0.83% and Triodontophorus sp 0.83%. Single (64%) and concurrent infections with two, three and four parasites were recorded in 25.6%, 8.26% and 1.65% respectively of the cases. All the factors except source, body condition score and health status affected significantly (at least P<0.05) the prevalence of gastro intestinal parasite infections. The high prevalence and wide spectrum observed in the present study suggests that helminth infection are widespread at the farms/herds examined and may be a constraint to economic camel production in the country and there is need to institute control measures.

Key words: Endoparasites, prevalence, risk factors


Camels play an important socio-economic role in the arid and semi arid areas, where most of the resource poor farmers in Africa live (Guliye et al 2007). The role of camels in traditional areas has been highlighted (Wilson 1984; 1998; Mehari et al 2007). Camels have been reported to form an integral part of the cultural life and system of pastoral communities and they are the major source of food (meat and milk), transport and they provide a genetic resource base which is abundantly available and can be exploited for improvement of the livelihoods of rural people (Schwartz and Walsh 1992).  


The major problems of livestock production, camel inclusive, in Tanzania include housing, health and feeding (Max et al 2006, Parsani et al 2008). According to EI Bihari (1986) and Wahba and Refail (2003), high incidence of diseases is one of the major constraints associated with camel production. The detrimental role which parasitic diseases play in livestock production has been emphasized (Hansen and Perry 1994). Losses are due to mortality, lowering of reproductive and growth rate, reduced hide value, weight loss and increased cost of production due to additional veterinary bills. Animals in discomfort or pain are likely to be less productive than their healthy counterparts.


Globally, a number of studies have been undertaken to determine the relationship between the prevalence of helminth infections and management practises present in camel herds. Such studies have been done in Sudan (Fadl et al 1992), Mali (Tembely et al 1992), Kuwait (Abdul-Salam and Farah 1988), Ethiopia (Bekele 2002) and Pakistan (Khan et al 2010) amongst other countries. These studies have shown that poor husbandry, management system, climate, and sub-optimal feeding of camels may influence the occurrence and pattern of infection. In contrast, there is no published information on the gastrointestinal (GIT) helminth status in camels in Tanzania. Therefore, a questionnaire and parasitological survey was carried out in camel herds in different administrative localities of northern Tanzania, in order to obtain information on the relationship between various management, environment, host factors and prevalence of different GIT helminths in the camel herds. It’s believed that 80% of the camels in Tanzania belong to the resource poor pastoral communities of northern Tanzania.

Material and Methods

Study area

This study was conducted in 8 geographical localities of northern Tanzania. Geographically, the eight localities are located between Latitude 2o 11’ and 6o 14’ South of Equator, and Longitude 35o 11’ and 38o 26’ East of Greenwich. The study sites were purposively selected in collaboration with the government livestock extension and administration officers. The study sites receive an average annual rainfall of 800 mm which is bimodal in distribution. The long rains fall between March-May and the short rains fall between October – December. The amount and duration of rainfall varies from year to year and from season to season. Temperatures vary between 13oC to 31oC through-out the year, the coldest month being July and warmest months being October and March, prior to the rains.

Sampling Procedure and Data Collection

In conducting the study, a cross-sectional design in which data was collected at a single point and time (Thrusfield 2005) was used. The study population consisted of all age and sex, indigenous breeds of camel (one hump camel) reared under extensive husbandry which allows free grazing, usually mixed with livestock from other villages. Semi-structured questionnaire (SSQ) comprising herd, camel bio-data was developed and subsequently administered. During questionnaire administration, complementary herd health inspection was used to collect management practices and asses health status. Data collected included herd size, source of animals classified as homebred or brought–in, sex, age retrieved from owner herd record. Body condition scores were visually assessed as either poor, fair or good. Other information assessed includes health status at a time of visit classified as healthy or unhealthy, history of husbandry practices intervention such as vector and endo-parasite control. Field survey was conducted during the period of June to August 2010.

Sampling and Parasitologic techniques

Fresh faecal samples were collected per-rectum using plastic gloves, put into faecal pots, labelled and kept cool before transportation to the local veterinary Investigation laboratory where they were immediately examined or stored at refrigerated temperature (4°C) for a maximum of one day before processing. The sedimentation and floatation technique as described by Soulsby (1982) and Urquhart et al (1987) was used to detect the presence of stomach and intestinal eggs (trematodes and nematodes) in the samples. The presence of coccidia oocysts was also recorded.

Statistical analysis

Collected data were entered, stored and analyzed using Epi-Info version 6.04b (CDC, USA). Descriptive statistics were generated and presented in tables. For the epidemiological studies, the prevalence (p) of camels harbouring each parasite was calculated as p = d/n, where d is the number of camels diagnosed as having a given parasite egg/oocyst at that point in time and n = number of camels at risk (examined) at that point in time (Thrusfield 2005). Associations between parasitism and categorical (host, environment and management) factors were compared using chi-square tests for independence. The level of significance was set at P < 0.05.


Participating herds characteristics

All the selected camel herds were visited, owner or any household member interviewed and animal sampled. The average (mean ± SD) herd size of the sampled herds (n=14) was 24.1± 21.9, range, 3-72. The average age of all investigated camels were 6.8 years with range varying from less than 1 yrs to 22 years and the majorities (89%) of the animals were below 10 years of age. One humped camel was the predominant specie kept. Of the 193 camels examined, 144(74.6%) and 49(35.4%) were females and males, respectively. Regular vector and endo-parasite (worm) control practices were reported to be the common intervention made to 74% and 56% of the study camels, respectively. The proportions of camel in each category of each variable investigated are detailed in Table 1 and Figure 1.

Table 1. Proportion of each category investigated and the associated prevalence of parasite (all species) egg/oocyst infection










Body score


































Brought- in






Healthy status












History of deworming












 Age(in yrs)

≤ 3






≥ 3-4




≥ 6-10




≥ 10






 χ2 –Chi-square, P = Level of significance 

Prevalence of GIT parasite eggs/oocysts

A total of 193 camels were examined, of which 121(62.7%) were diagnosed as harbouring nematodes and trematodes eggs at varying levels. The proportion of the camels harbouring nematodes eggs (Stronglylus sp) was the highest (89.2%). Other gastro-intestinal parasites eggs encountered included Trichostrongylus sp (27.7%), Strongyloides sp (6.6%) and trematodes (Gastrodiscus sp; 2.47%).  Protozoan oocysts (Eimeria sp) were detected in 12(9.9%) samples. Single parasite infections (n=77; 63.6%) were more common than two (31; 25.6%) or three (10; 8.26%) or four (2; 1.65%) infections. Prevalence of GIT parasites are shown in table 2.

Table 2. Prevalence of different GIT parasites eggs/oocysts

Parasite class

Parasite sp

Number positive

Prevalence (%)



































Coccidia oocyst



Factors influencing the prevalence of GIT parasite eggs/oocysts infection

Significant factors influencing prevalence of GIT parasites infection are given in Table 1. Host age was found to be a significant factor with respect to the prevalence of GIT parasite infection (P<0.05), with eggs/oocysts been detected more frequently in age categories (>3-10) than (<3 years) and (>10 years) camels (Table 1). The likelihood that camel was positive for GIT parasite eggs varied significantly with administrative location. Camels located in Simanjiro, Arumeru, Same and Mwanga districts had significantly high prevalence of helminth eggs infection than animals located in Kilindi, Longido and Monduli (P<0.05) (Fig 1). Female camels were significantly more likely to habour GIT parasites eggs than males (OR [odd ratio] = 2.41, P = 0.023 for female). Health status, source, and body score were not significantly associated with prevalence of parasite infection (P>0.05). Camels reported to have been treated against helminths in the last one year prior to the present study survey were significantly associated with lower prevalence of GIT parasite infection (OR= 0.45; P= 0.013).

Figure 1. Proportion and prevalence of GIT parasite eggs/oocysts by district (n=193)


The microscopic fecal examination showed that helminthosis was an important health disease in camels. This finding is in agreement with the results of other researchers, that helminthosis is one of the main problems in camels worldwide (Selim and Rahman 1972; Fadl et al 1992; Abdul-Salam and Farah 1988; Rewatkar et al 2009; Khan et al 2010).


The overall prevalence of 62.7% of GIT parasite eggs/oocyst in the camels in this study shows that there were frequent infections with different species of helminthes and protozoan. Eleven different species of gastrointestinal tract worms and protozoan were identified in camels. They were broadly classified as nematodes (9 species), trematodes (1 specie) and protozoan (1 specie) according to the egg structure (Boid et al 1986; Max et al 2006). The relatively high level of endo parasitism recorded in this study is probably related to the number of adult parasites established in the GIT, level of host immunity, stage of parasite infection, lack of improvement in our animal health management programmes or non adoption of the modern animal health care programmes by camel owners.


Mixed parasitism (35.5%) involving two or more helminth genera was common in the present study and is in agreements with the results of other researchers (Selim and Rahman 1972; Tembely et al 1992; Fadl et al 1992; Al-Ani et al 1998; Bekele 2002; Rewatkar et al 2009). Strongylus and Trichostrongylus spp were the most incriminated helminths in camels (Rewatkar et al 2009). Other helminth/oocyst genera detected, though at a low frequencies included Strongyloides sp, Gastrodiscus sp and Eimeria sp. This is the first time that the camel GIT helminths and protozoan has been reported in northern Tanzania. Strongylus spp occurred in 108 of 193 camels (89.2%) screened and was the most prevalent endoprasite encountered during our study. This high prevalence was comparable to the prevalence of 100% reported in Kenya (Mukani and Kimani 1999), but higher than the prevalence’s of 41% and 75% reported in Ethiopia and Sudan, respectively (Bekele 2002; Abdul-Salam and Farah 1988). The country–to-country variation can be adequately attributed to variation between agro climatic conditions, levels of hygiene and husbandry practices (Allport et al 2005). The prevalence of Parascaris sp was 1.65%. This finding was low compared to prevelences of 20% and 51% reported in Sudan and Ethiopia (Gatechew et al 2010; Fadl et al 1992). Soulsby (1982) has stated that Parascaris sp eggs are very resistant to adverse conditions, like drying or freezing and the larvae rarely hatch and infection usually takes place through ingestion of the eggs. Heavy infections of Parascaris equorum causes impaction and perforation leading to fatal peritonitis (Urquhart et al 1996).  The prevalence of Anaplocephala species was 3.3%.The low prevalence detected in this study could be attributed to the sporadic discharge of gravid segment in the faeces and the difficulty in detecting cestodes eggs by routine faecal examination (Soulsby 1982; Ayele et al 2006).


Eimeria sp with prevalence of 9.9% was low compared with prevalences of 12.5% and 25% respectively recorded in Pakistan (Anwar and Khan 1998; Rewatkar et al 2009). Heavy protozoan infection causes significant impact in young camels resulting into high morbidity and mortality (Chineme 1980; Boid et al 1986; Kinne and Wernery 1997).


Most of the camels examined appeared to be in fairly health condition, but yielded different types of helminth eggs during examinations despite high level of deworming intervention made by camel owners. As expected drenched camels prior to the current study were associated with low level of helminth excretion. A good number of camel owners/keepers in the study area perceive helminth infection as a pre determined coincidental manifestation, which nobody could do anything to prevent.


The sex of the hosts was an important factor influencing the prevalence of GIT infection in this study. Female camels were more infected with helminth parasites than their male counterparts. This may be due to the physiological peculiarities of the female camels, which usually constitute stress factors thus reducing their immunity to infections (Wakelin 1984)


The study further revealed that body conditions of the animal did not show significant association with the prevalence of the parasites. The absence of association between body condition and prevalence disagrees with previous reports in other livestock species (Keyyu et al 2003). This could be explained by the fact that loss of body condition in the study animals could be due to other factors, such as seasonal change of forageable feed staff and the presence of other concurrent disease conditions, mainly high prevalence of trypanosomosis in some of the lowland districts.

Conclusion and recommendation


We acknowledge the kind cooperation of the participating camel owners for accepting the use of their animals for the study. Laboratory technical expertise’s provided by VIC colleagues are highly acknowledged. Director, Veterinary services Tanzania is acknowledged for permission to publish this work. 


Abdul-Salam J M and Farah M A 1988 Seasonal fluctuations of gastrointestinal helminths of camels in Kuwait, Veterinary Parasitology 28(1-2):93-102.


Al-Ani F K,  Sharrif L A, Al-Rawashdeh O F,  Al- Qudah K M  and Al-Hammi Y 1998 Camel Diseases in Jordan. In: Proceedings of the Third Annual Meeting for Animal Production under Arid Conditions, Vol. 2: 77-92 © 1998 United Arab Emirates University


Allport R, Mosha R, Bahari M, Swai E S and Catley A 2005 The use of community-based animal health workers to strengthen disease surveillance system in Tanzania, Revue scientifique et technique International Office of Epizootics 24(3): 921-932.


Anwar A H and Khan M N 1998 Parasitic fauna of Camel in Pakistan. In: Proceeding of the 3rd Meeting for Animal Production under Arid Conditions, vol 2, pp 69-79, United Arab Emirates University


Ayele G, Feseha G, Bojia E and Joe A 2006: Prevalence of gastro-intestinal parasites of donkeys in Dugda Bora District, Ethiopia. Livestock Research for Rural Development. Volume 18, Article #136. Retrieved November 1, 2010, from


 EI Bihari S 1986 Helminths of the Camel: A Review. In: Higgins, A., The Camel in Health and Disease, Balliere Tindall, London, pp. 41-59.


Bekele T 2002 Epidemiological studies on gastrointestinal helminths of dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) in semi-arid lands of eastern Ethiopia, Veterinary Parasitology 105(2):139-52.


Boid R, Jones T W and Luckins A G 1986 The camel in health and disease. 3. Protozoal diseases of camels, British Veterinary Journal 141: 87-105 o


Chineme C N 1980 A case report of coccidiosis caused by Eimeria cameli in camel (camelus dromedarius) in Nigeria, Journal of wild life diseases 16(3): 377-380.


Fadl M, Magzoub M and Bürger H J 1992 Prevalence of gastro-intestinal nematode infection in the dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius) in the Butana plains, Sudan, Revue d'élevage et de médecine vétérinaire des pays tropicaux 45(3-4):291-3.


Getachew M, Trawford A, Feseha G and  Reid S W 2010 Gastrointestinal parasites of working donkeys of Ethiopia. Tropical Animal Health and Production 42(1):27-33.


Guliye A Y, Noor I M, Bebe B O and Kosgey 1 S 2007 Role of camels (Camelus dromedarius) in the traditional lifestyle of Somali pastoralists in northern Kenya, Outlook on Agriculture 36(1): 29-34.


Hansen J and Perry B 1994 The Epidemiology, Diagnosis and Control of Helminth Parasites of Ruminants, A handbook, ILRAD, Nairobi, Kenya, 171 pp. ISBN 9290557031.


Keyyu J D, Kassuku A A, Kyvsgaard N C and Willingham A L 2003 Gastrointestinal nematodes in indigenous zebu cattle under pastoral and nomadic management systems in the lower plain of Southern highlands of Tanzania, Veterinary Research Communication 27(5):371-380.


Khan M N, Sajid M S, Khan M K, Iqbal Z and Hussain A 2010 Gastrointestinal helminthiasis: prevalence and associated determinants in domestic ruminants of district Toba Tek Singh, Punjab, Pakistan, Parasitology Research 107(4):787-94.


Kinne J and Wernery U 1997 Severe outbreak of camel coccidiosis in the United Arab Emirates, Journal of  Camel Practice Research  4: 261-265


Max R A, Vatta A F, Jayaswal M L, Kimambo A E, Kassuku A A and Mtenga L A 2006 Technical manual for worm management in small ruminants, Sokoine Univerisity of Agriculture, Tanzania, pp 2-4.


Mehari Y, Mekuriaw Z and Gebru G 2007: Camel and camel product marketing in Babilie and Kebribeyah woredas of the Jijiga Zone, Somali Region, Ethiopia. Livestock Research for Rural Development. Volume 19, Article #49. Retrieved October 31, 2010, from


Mukani O W and Kimani K J 1999 Efficacy of parenteral formulation of levamisole and ivermectin against Strongylosis in Dromedary Camels, Journal of  Camel Practice and Research 6(1): 73 – 75.


Parsani H R, Veer Singh and Momin R R 2008 Common Parasitic Diseases of Camel, Veterinary World 1(10): 317-318


Rewatkar S G, Deshmukh S S, Deshkar S K, Maske D K, Jurnde P D and Bhangale G N 2009 Gastrointestinal helminthes in migratory camel, Veterinary World 2(7): 258


Schwartz H J and Walsh M G H 1992 The Productive Potential of the Camel. In: Schwartz H J and Dioli M 1992 (Editors). The One-Humped Camel (Camelus dromedaries) in Eastern Africa: a pictorial guide to diseases, health care, and management. Verlag Josef, Scientific Books D- 6992 Weikersheim Federal Republic of Germany. pp. 30-61.


Selim M K and Rahman M S 1972 Enteric nematodes of camels in Egypt, Egyptian Journal of  Veterinary Science 9: 75-80.


Soulsby E 1982 Helminths, Arthropods and Protozoa of Domestic Animals. 7th edition, 790p. Balliere Tindall, 1st Annes Road, East bourne, East Sussex BN21.


Tembely S, Diarra P A, Waigalo Y, Koumaré A and  Vassiliades G 1992 Preliminary observations on helminth parasite populations of the dromedary in northern Mali, Veterinary  Parasitology 44(3-4):339-42.


Thrusfield M V 2005 Veterinary Epidemiology, 3rd edn, 234-238 pp. Blackwell Science, Oxford, London, UK.


Urquhart G M, Armour J, Duncan J L, Dunn J M and Jennings J W 1987 Veterinary Parasitology. 3rd edn. 238 pp. Longman Scientific and Technical, Burnt Mill, Harlow, U.K.


Urquhart G M, Armour J, Duncan J L, Dunn A M and Jennings F W 1996 Veterinary Parasitology.2nd ed.307p. Black well Science limited, London, UK


Wahba A A and Refail E L 2003 Detection and identification of enteric parasite infesting camel, Egyptian Journal of Agricultural research 81(1): 297-310


Wakelin D 1984 Immunity to parasites: how animals control parasites infections. 1st edn.  93-117 pp. Edward Arnold (Publishers Ltd).


Wilson R T 1984 The Camel. 1st edn, Longman Group Ltd, Longman House Mill, Harlow Essex, UK, Pp. 223.


Wilson R T 1998 Productivity-Camels. The Tropical Agriculturalist, CTA, the Netherlands, pp.108-126. 

Received 2 February 2011; Accepted 25 March 2011; Published 1 May 2011

Go to top