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Risk factors associated with strongylid egg count prevalence and abundance in the United States equine population

Nielsen, M.K., Branan, M.A., Wiedenheft, A.M., Digianantonio, R., Scare, J.A., Bellaw, J.L., Garber, L.P., Kopral, C.A., Phillippi-Taylor, A.M., Traub-Dargatz, J.L.
Veterinary parasitology 2018 v.257 pp. 58-68
Cyathostominae, anthelmintics, confidence interval, deworming, drugs, eggs, fecal egg count, feces, females, grazing, horses, males, monitoring, national surveys, parasites, parasitology, pastures, pathogens, questionnaires, risk factors, statistical analysis, summer, Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Wyoming
Equine strongyle parasites are considered ubiquitous in grazing equids across the world, and cyathostomin parasites are known pathogens causing well-described disease complexes in horses. Decades of intensive anthelmintic treatments have led to anthelmintic resistance in cyathostomins, and current recommendations are to lower treatment intensity and base control strategies on fecal egg count surveillance. Little is known about risk factors associated with strongyle parasite egg shedding patterns in the United States equine population, as the most recent national survey was conducted 20 years ago. The present study was carried out as part of the National Animal Health Monitoring Systems (NAHMS) Equine 2015–2016 study. The aims were to describe strongyle parasite egg shedding patterns in the United States equine population and identify risk factors associated with prevalence and egg count magnitude. Data were collected from equine operations in 28 states via questionnaires and fecal samples submitted to a parasitology research laboratory for fecal egg count analysis and the data gathered underwent comprehensive statistical analyses. Though region and season were related, overall, the summer months and the fall in the southeast tended to have the greatest odds of presence of strongyles eggs on a FEC. Generally, equids resident in the Western region (Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, and Wyoming) had significantly lower strongyle prevalence, no matter the season, as well as a markedly different distribution between strongyle egg shedding levels (p = 0.0005). Overall, egg counts were over-dispersed with about 27% of equids (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 20–34%) contributing 80% of the egg output. Pasture history was significantly associated with strongyle egg prevalence (p = 0.0003) and egg shedding levels (p = 0.0063) with daily access in the previous 30 days being associated with higher odds of presence and greater median egg count levels. Equid gender was significantly associated with strongylid presence (p = 0.0081) and egg count level (p = 0.0008), with male equids having significantly lower odds and median egg counts than female equids, and age was significantly negatively associated with strongylid prevalence (p < 0.0001). Time since last deworming was significantly positively associated with prevalence of strongyle eggs, and this was dependent on the class of dewormer used (p = 0.0086), with equids treated with macrocyclic lactone class of drugs having lower odds of strongyle egg presence at 120 days since the last deworming. These data provide useful insights into strongylid egg shedding patterns in the United States equine population, and they can help refine parasite control recommendations depending on region, pasture access, and age distribution.