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Anthelmintic resistance in sheep farms: Update of the situation in the American continent

Torres-Acosta, J.F.J., Mendoza-de-Gives, P., Aguilar-Caballero, A.J., Cuéllar-Ordaz, J.A.
Veterinary parasitology 2012 v.189 no.1 pp. 89-96
anthelmintics, control methods, decision making, farmers, farmers' attitudes, farming systems, farms, flocks, helminths, icebergs, industry, researchers, sheep, surveys, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay, United States, Uruguay
The present paper reviews the frequency of anthelmintic resistance in sheep farms in different countries of the American continent and describes some aspects that might influence the trend in sheep farms. The situation of anthelmintic resistance in sheep farms has been explored mainly in south of the continent (Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay) where sheep farming is an important industry. In those three countries, as well as in Paraguay, the first comprehensive surveys of anthelmintic resistance were performed among countries in the continent, which showed evidence of high frequency of sheep farms with anthelmintic resistance. Today, it is common to find sheep flocks with multiple-resistant worms. In North and Central America, a similar situation has been reported in sheep farms in the south of the United States of America, parts of Mexico and Costa Rica. On the other hand, other areas of the continent show low frequency of farms with anthelmintic resistance. From many areas no results have been published regarding situation on anthelmintic resistance or, alternatively, published results have received limited dissemination. Although the diagnosis of anthelmintic resistance is important for decision making of helminth management/control at the farm level, this is still an aspiration rather than a reality. For decades, researchers working on anthelmintic resistance in the American continent have expressed the need to change farmers’ attitudes towards anthelmintic drugs. A common advice has been to check the anthelmintic drug efficacy regularly and reduce the dependence on these with alternative control measures. In spite of such advice, the challenge to stop/delay the advancement of anthelmintic resistance against the available anthelmintic drugs is still present. The evidence suggests that anthelmintic resistance is a growing phenomenon in the American continent. The situation described might be the tip of the iceberg, as anthelmintic resistance is still largely under-diagnosed. Hence, a different approach to tackle the advancement of anthelmintic resistance in sheep farms must be found. Awareness of farmers on the importance of diagnosis of anthelmintic resistance is not enough. Technical support schemes that provide the diagnostic service cheaply and timely must be implemented together with the research aiming at the adoption of control methods to reduce the dependence on conventional anthelmintic drugs. Unless these elements are readily available for producers, the negative consequences of anthelmintic resistance on sheep farming in America will continue to worsen with time.