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Identification of effective treatment criteria for use in targeted selective treatment programs to control haemonchosis in periparturient ewes in Ontario, Canada

Westers, T., Jones-Bitton, A., Menzies, P., VanLeeuwen, J., Poljak, Z., Peregrine, A.S.
Preventive veterinary medicine 2016 v.134 pp. 49-57
Haemonchus, body condition, body weight, closantel, ewes, farms, fecal egg count, flocks, grazing, lambing, oral administration, parasites, pregnancy, refuge habitats, Ontario
Haemonchosis is often associated with late gestation and parturition in ewes in Canada. Due to widespread concerns about development of anthelmintic resistance (AR), targeted selective treatment (TST), where individual animals are treated with an anthelmintic rather than the entire flock, is a possible strategy to control clinical signs in recently lambed ewes while still maintaining parasite refugia. Performing fecal egg counts (FEC) on individual animals is often cost-prohibitive, so indicators that identify ewes with high FEC are essential for TST programs. The study objectives were to: a) evaluate the ability of four TST indicators to identify periparturient ewes with high Haemonchus sp. FEC and b) determine appropriate treatment thresholds for statistically-significant indicators. A field study was conducted during the 2013 and 2014 lambing seasons (February-May) on three client-owned farms in Ontario with documented AR and problems with haemonchosis in ewes. Ewes were examined within three days of lambing and selected for treatment with oral closantel (10mg/kg body weight), a novel anthelmintic to Canada, if they met at least one of four criteria: a) the last grazing season was their first grazing season; b) body condition score ≤2; c) Faffa Malan Chart (FAMACHA©) score ≥3; and/or d) three or more nursing lambs. Fecal samples were collected per rectum on the treatment day from each of 20 randomly selected treated and untreated ewes on each farm. Haemonchus sp. percentages on each farm, as determined by coproculture, ranged from 53% to 92% of total fecal trichostrongyle-type egg counts. Mean Haemonchus sp. FECs were significantly higher in treated ewes (n=136) than in untreated ewes (n=103) on the day of treatment in both years (p=0.001), suggesting the indicators were suitable for identifying animals with high Haemonchus sp. FEC. A linear mixed model was fit with logarithmic-transformed Haemonchus sp. FEC as the outcome variable, the four indicators and year as fixed effects, and farm as a random effect. FAMACHA© score was the sole indicator to remain significantly associated with FEC (p=0.002). A receiver-operator curve determined that test sensitivity was maximized (92.4%) with FAMACHA© score ≥3 as the sole indicator. FAMACHA© score should therefore be included in TST programs to identify ewes requiring treatment at lambing due to Haemonchus sp.