Reasons for performing study: Increasing prevalence of anthelmintic resistance in equine nematodes calls for a reexamination of current parasite control programmes to identify factors influencing control efficacy and development of resistance.
Objectives: To investigate if associations occur between prevalence of parasitic nematodes and management practices.
Methods: German horse farms (n = 76) were investigated in 2003 and 2004. Information on farm and pasture management with respect to endoparasite control measures obtained using a questionnaire survey. Faecal examinations were performed in parallel.
Results: Horses (n = 2000) were examined by faecal nematode egg counts, grouped into foals, yearlings and mature individuals for statistical analyses. Farms were categorised into 3 types, riding, stud farms and small holdings. Count regression models were used to analyse strongyle faecal egg count data. Following dichotomisation of faecal egg count (FEC) data, prevalence of strongyle and Parascaris equorum infections were assessed by logistic regression models as a function from various management factors. Yearlings on stud farms showed a 2-fold higher risk of being positive for strongyle FEC, higher (i.e. ≥3 per year) anthelmintic drug treatment frequencies were associated with reduced strongyle infection rates only in mature individuals but not in foals or yearlings, foals on farms fertilising pastures with horse manure had a significantly higher risk of being P. equorum FEC positive and yearlings on stud farms were more often showing incomplete FECR following anthelmintic treatment compared to yearlings on other farm types. The mean yearly treatment frequencies per age group were: foals 4.52, yearlings 3.26 and mature horses 2.72 times, respectively.
Conclusion and potential relevance: To delay the development of anthelmintic, resistance management should include additional nonchemotherapeutic parasite control strategies, FEC-monitoring, controlled quarantine treatment of new arrivals and control of efficacy by the faecal egg count reduction test on a regular basis.