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Comparison of individual and pooled faecal samples in sheep for the assessment of gastrointestinal strongyle infection intensity and anthelmintic drug efficacy using McMaster and Mini-FLOTAC

Rinaldi, Laura, Levecke, Bruno, Bosco, Antonio, Ianniello, Davide, Pepe, Paola, Charlier, Johannes, Cringoli, Giuseppe, Vercruysse, Jozef
Veterinary parasitology 2014 v.205 no.1-2 pp. 216-223
Strongylidae, adults, albendazole, correlation, drugs, eggs, farms, fecal egg count, feces, field experimentation, gastrointestinal system, sheep, Italy
A field study was conducted to validate pooled faecal samples in sheep for the assessment of gastrointestinal (GI) strongyle infection intensity (faecal egg count – FEC) and anthelmintic drug efficacy (FEC reduction – FECR). Ten sheep farms located in the Campania region of southern Italy were selected for the study. In each farm, individual faecal samples from 20 adult sheep (when possible) were collected, before (D0) and after (D14) an anthelmintic treatment with albendazole. For each farm and at each time point (D0 and D14) the faecal samples were examined individually and as pools. Specifically, three different pool sizes (5, 10 and 20 individual sheep samples) and three different analytic sensitivities (namely 10 using Mini-FLOTAC; 15 and 50 using the two variants of McMaster – McM15 and McM50) were compared for FEC and FECR using individual and pooled faecal samples. GI strongyle intensity (eggs per gram of faeces – EPG) of pooled samples correlated positively with mean EPG of individual samples, with very high correlation coefficients (ranging from 0.94 to 0.99) across the 3 different pool sizes and analytic sensitivities. Mini-FLOTAC was more sensitive compared to the two variants of McMaster (McM15 and McM50) for the diagnosis of GI strongyles in sheep (100% vs 88.5% vs 75.9%) and resulted in significant higher FEC compared to both McM15 and McM50, with a mean difference in egg counts of approximately 90 EPG (p<0.001). The drug efficacy results showed that FECR was higher than 98% at most farms independently of the pool size and analytic sensitivity. With the exception of two farms, FECR was 100% when calculated for individual animals and across the different pool size and analytic sensitivities. In conclusion, the present study highlighted that pooling ovine faecal samples is a rapid procedure that holds promise as a valid strategy for assessing GI strongyles FEC and FECR in sheep.