Postbiotic supplementation with INGUBAL Equine® in horses with piroplasmosis
Postbiótico INGUBAL Equine® - Ingulados


Equine piroplasmosis is a parasitosis caused by the protozoa Theileria equi and Babesia caballi and transmitted by several species of ticks of the genera Dermacentor, Hyalomma and Rhipicephalus. It is one of the most common diseases in horses and can affect all equines, entailing important economic losses in the sector since it is the main cause of restriction of equine transport at international level.

Equine piroplasmosis can present in hyperacute, acute or chronic forms and the clinical signs are usually nonspecific, so the disease can easily be confused with other disorders. In endemic areas, many horses become infected when young and remain asymptomatic carriers, acting as sources of infection for ticks, which act as vectors of the disease.

The immune response of horses to piroplasmosis infection is complex and multifactorial. Infected animals remain as carriers, in many cases asymptomatic, so the interaction between the parasite and the host immune system is constant. On some occasions, carriers subjected to stress or immunosuppressive diseases or drugs may multiply the parasite in the blood and manifest clinical signs at some point in their lives.

Therefore, the use of immunomodulatory supplements, such as postbiotics, for the control of equine piroplasmosis is proposed. Postbiotics are bioactive compounds generated from the fermentation of beneficial bacteria, as well as cell wall components released after bacterial lysis, which can have a beneficial effect on host health due to their antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties.

The objective of the experience was to evaluate the evolution of piroplasmosis in horses after supplementation with INGUBAL Equine® for a period of 4 months.



The experience included 10 horses belonging to a farm located in the province of Cáceres. The horses ranged in age from 2 to 8 years old and were divided into two groups.

  • The control group received their standard feed (ground oats) without supplementation, with the same guidelines they usually receive.
  • The supplemented group followed the same feeding pattern, but supplemented with INGUBAL Equine® at 12.5 g per day for 120 days.

Animals were sampled before and after supplementation. The first sampling is considered to perform the initial diagnosis and planning of the experience, while the second is used to monitor the evolution of certain parameters that will be described below.

Whole blood and serum samples were collected in tubes with and without anticoagulant. A complete biochemical profile was performed on the serum sample and the samples with anticoagulant were used to perform hemograms. The determination of blood parasites was performed by microscopy of blood smears. For confirmation of the diagnosis of blood parasites, DNA extraction and detection by generic PCR of species of the genera Babesia spp. and Theileria spp. was performed, and identification of the species causing piroplasmosis was carried out by specific PCR and sequencing. Finally, detection of the immune response was performed by competitive enzyme immunoassay (C-ELISA). In addition, all animals were checked daily to identify possible clinical signs of disease.

Dark and liquid diarrhea of piglets. INGUBAL EQUINE.

Image 1. Sample collection. Own source.



Sanitary parameters

The animals tested showed no clinical signs at any time during the study. No statistically significant differences were observed in the analyses between the two groups, neither before nor after supplementation. These results suggest that the supplement administered is safe, since we did not observe any alterations in the analytical tests performed, nor were there any clinical signs of disease.

Evolution of piroplasmosis

The results obtained from the piroplasmosis study are shown in Table 1. At the beginning of the experiment (pre-supplementation sample) the percentage of animals positive for blood parasites was the same in both groups (60%). After supplementation with INGUBAL Equine®, parasite reduction was 100% in the supplemented group and remained stable in the control group that did not receive supplementation. The parasite most commonly found in this population is Theileria equi.

Microscopy compatible with piroplasmosis. INGUBAL EQUINE.

Image 2. Microscopy compatible with piroplasmosis. High parasitic load (left) and low parasitic load (right). Own source.


These results of the evolution of piroplasmosis indicate that supplementation with INGUBAL Equine® could help to control the infection by these blood parasites, since it has been possible to eliminate the parasite from the peripheral circulation in all treated animals. This fact is very important for the control of the disease in endemic areas, where there is a high percentage of asymptomatic carrier animals that can act as reservoirs of the parasite and sources of infection for ticks.

Regarding the detection of the immune response, all animals that were positive by C-ELISA continued to be positive until the end of the experience, so it would be advisable to continue with the administration of the supplement and to monitor the animals until the disappearance of blood antibodies is verified.

Evolution of piroplasmosis. Ingubal Equine

Table 1. Evolution of piroplasmosis


These results are comparable to other studies carried out in populations with piroplasmosis-positive animals, in which the parasite is eliminated in peripheral blood by the administration of imidocarb dipropionate, but not the antibodies, which can persist up to 12 months after infection.



Supplementation with elements that modulate the intestinal microbiota and the immune system, as is the case of INGUBAL Equine®, has proven to be useful to develop an immune response quickly and efficiently in the animals in which they are administered. Supplementation with the postbiotic INGUBAL Equine® is able to eliminate piroplasmosis from the peripheral blood possibly due to the development of immunomodulatory mechanisms in horses.

Thanks to supplementation, it is possible to reduce the number of persistently infected carrier animals, which in most cases are asymptomatic, and which are reservoirs of infection for ticks, ensuring their dissemination to other animals. In order to reduce blood antibodies, positive horses should be monitored for a longer period of time.



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This study was carried out by INGULADOS in collaboration with AVEGALI. It is published in the magazine Extremadura PRE, No. 35 – Apr 2020, pp. 18 – 25 of the Extremadura Association of Purebred Spanish Horses (AECCPRE). This work was presented at the XX International Congress of Equine Medicine and Surgery (SICAB), held in Seville in November 2019 and won recognition for Best Experimental Poster.