Helminths in horses: Use of selective treatment for the control of strongyles

S. Matthee, M. A. McGeoch

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The current level of anthelmintic resistance in the horse-breeding industry is extremely high and therefore more emphasis is being-placed on studies that focus on the judicious use of anthelmintic products. The aims of the study were to: 1) establish if there is variation in the egg excretion pattern of strongyles between the different age classes of Thoroughbred horses in the Western Cape Province (WCP), 2) test if a selective treatment approach successfully reduces the number of anthelmintic treatments and maintains acceptably low helminth burdens in adult Thoroughbred horses, and 3) evaluate the efficacy of subsampling large horse herds for faecal egg counts (FECs) to monitor the strongyle burden. In 2001 the FECs of 4 adult mare, 5 yearling and 3 weanling herds from 8 different farms were compared in the WCP. Within the mare herds there were generally fewer egg-excreting individuals with lower mean FECs compared with the younger age classes. Individual faecal samples were collected every 3-4 weeks from 52 adult Thoroughbred mares from 1 farm in the WCP during a 12-month period (20O2/2003). Animals with strongyle FECs ≥100 eggs per gram (epg ) were treated with an ivermectin-praziquantel combination drug (Equimax oral paste, Virbac). The mean monthly strongyle FEC for the entire group was <300 epg throughout the study and the number of treatments was reduced by 50%. Resampling methods showed that an asymptote to mean FEC was reached at 55 animals for each of the pooled weanling, yearling and mare egg counts. Resampling within 4 different mare herds recorded asymptotes of between 24 and 28 animals. Subsampling entire herds for FECs therefore provided an effective approach to treatment management. This study demonstrates that selective treatment is both a practical and an effective approach to the management of anthelmintic resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-136
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the South African Veterinary Association
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • Anthelmintic resistance
  • Anthelmintics
  • Cyathostomins
  • Faecal egg counts
  • Intestinal parasite management

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