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Schneider, Stephanie; Pfister, Kurt; Becher, Anne M.; Scheuerle, Miriam C.: Strongyle infections and parasitic control strategies in German horses - a risk assessment. In: BMC Veterinary Research 2014, 10:262




Background: As a consequence of the increasing levels of anthelmintic resistance in cyathostomes, new strategies for equine parasite control are being implemented. To assess the potential risks of these, the occurrence of strongyles was evaluated in a group of 1887 horses. The distribution of fecal egg counts (FECs), the frequency of anthelmintic drug use, and the deworming intervals were also analyzed. Between June 2012 and May 2013, 1887 fecal samples from either selectively or strategically dewormed horses were collected at 195 horse farms all over Germany and analyzed quantitatively with a modified McMaster technique. All samples with FEC >= 20 eggs per gram (EPG) were subjected to coproculture to generate third-stage larvae (LIII) for species differentiation. Results: Egg counts were below the limit of detection (20 EPG) in 1046 (55.4%) samples and above it in 841 (44.6%) samples. Strongylus vulgaris larvae were identified in two of the 841 positive samples. Infections with cyathostomes were found on every farm. The most frequently applied anthelmintic was ivermectin (788/50.8%), followed by pyrantel (336/21.6%). The mean time since last treatment was 6.3 months. High-egg-shedding (> 500 EPG) strategically dewormed horses (183/1357) were treated, on average, three times/year. The planned treatment date was already exceeded by 72.5% of the high egg-shedders and by 58.1% of the moderate (200-500 EPG) and low egg-shedders (20-199 EPG). Conclusions: S. vulgaris seems to be rare in Germany and no difference in its frequency has yet been found between selectively treated horses and horses receiving treatment in strategic intervals. However, inconsistent parasite control has been observed. Therefore, to minimize the risks for disease, consistent and efficient parasite control should be implemented.