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A questionnaire study of equine gastrointestinal parasite control in Scotland

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Summary

Reasons for performing study

Anthelmintic resistance in equine gastrointestinal nematodes is a threat to equine health and welfare. Detailed knowledge of anthelmintic use and parasite control methods is a prerequisite to identification of potential risk factors for resistance.

Objectives

To identify parasite control practices employed by equine owners in Scotland and investigate management factors associated with anthelmintic resistance.

Study design

Questionnaire study of equine parasite control in Scotland.

Methods

Questionnaires were available electronically, distributed at a conference and mailed to clients. Key areas explored included general background, grazing management, anthelmintic treatment practices and use of diagnostic tests.

Results

A total of 193 responses detailing information on parasite control programmes of 993 equids were analysed. Moxidectin (MOX) and ivermectin or related combination products were the most commonly administered anthelmintics in the preceding 12 months. Treatments licensed for use against cyathostomin encysted larvae and tapeworms were administered by 80% and 90% of respondents, respectively. This was often achieved through indiscriminate use of MOX and MOX-praziquantel products. Faecal egg count (FEC) analysis had been performed on 62% of yards and regular use of FECs reduced annual anthelmintic treatment frequency. Veterinarians had the greatest influence on control practices. While 40% of respondents believed that they practised targeted dosing, this was not associated with delaying treatment beyond the egg reappearance period of the anthelmintic used.

Conclusions

Responses indicated increasing veterinary involvement and use of FECs. The majority of respondents administered anthelmintics licensed against cyathostomin encysted larvae and tapeworms. However, responses suggested that owners did not understand the definition of ‘targeted’ dosing regimens.

Potential relevance

The high frequency of MOX use represents a potential risk factor for macrocyclic lactone resistance. As veterinarians were the most influential factor in anthelmintic choice, awareness of macrocyclic lactone resistance and potential risk factors for its development and spread should be incorporated into client advice.

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