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Gastro-intestinal nematodes in Ontario sheep flocks - An epidemiological study of over-wintering and anthelmintic resistance

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Title: Gastro-intestinal nematodes in Ontario sheep flocks - An epidemiological study of over-wintering and anthelmintic resistance
Author: Falzon, Laura Cristina
Department: Department of Population Medicine
Program: Population Medicine
Advisor: Menzies, PaulaJones-Bitton, Andria
Abstract: This thesis was conducted to evaluate important epidemiological features of Gastro-Intestinal Nematode (GIN) infections in Ontario sheep flocks; namely, the PeriParturient Egg Rise (PPER), overwintering of GIN free-living stages on pasture, and Anthelmintic Resistance (AR). Three main studies were carried out: a longitudinal study was conducted on six sheep farms to evaluate the PPER in ewes lambing in different seasons and to determine whether total plasma protein (TPP) levels and packed cell volume (PCV) were associated with increased fecal GIN-egg shedding. Secondly, a pilot-study was conducted on three farms to describe pasture-level environmental conditions and over-wintering survival and infectivity of free-living GIN larvae, especially Haemonchus contortus. Lastly, a cross-sectional study was conducted on 47 sheep farms in Ontario, to evaluate the frequency of AR, compare different diagnostic tests for AR, and evaluate management practices associated with AR. In the longitudinal study, the PPER was observed in winter, spring and autumn lambing ewes, though the magnitude and distribution of the PPER varied with season. Lower TPP and PCV values were associated with increased fecal GIN-egg counts. The pilot-study suggested that H. contortus larvae did not overwinter successfully on pasture, while other GINs, such as Teladorsagia sp., Trichostrongylus spp. and Nematodirus spp., were able to overwinter on pasture, and were infective the following spring. Resistance to ivermectin, fenbendazole and levamisole was demonstrated on 97% (28/29), 95% (19/20) and 6% (1/17) respectively of the farms tested; most of the resistance observed was found in Haemonchus sp. The Fecal Egg Count Reduction percentage following treatment was influenced by which mean (i.e. arithmetic vs. geometric) was used in the formula; use of pre-treatment in addition to post-treatment faecal egg counts was not influential. Both the fecal egg count reduction test and the larval development assay diagnosed resistance, but there was poor agreement between the two tests, as indicated by the Kappa test. The prior use of benzimidazoles on farms was associated with higher levels of fenbendazole resistance. The information generated in this thesis will be used to develop a parasite control program for sheep flocks in Ontario and to guide future research on GIN parasitism.
Date: 2012-12
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