Strongylus vulgaris associated with usage of selective therapy on Danish horse farms-Is it reemerging?

Department of Large Animal Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Electronic address: .
Veterinary Parasitology (Impact Factor: 2.38). 05/2012; 189(2-4):260-6. DOI:10.1016/j.vetpar.2012.04.039
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Nematodes belonging to the order Strongylida are ubiquitous in grazing horses, and the large strongyle Strongylus vulgaris is considered the most pathogenic. This parasite was originally described widely prevalent in equine establishments, but decades of frequent anthelmintic treatment appears to have reduced the prevalence dramatically. Increasing levels of anthelmintic resistance in cyathostomin parasites have led to implementation of selective therapy to reduce further development of resistance. It has been hypothesized that S. vulgaris could reoccur under these less intensive treatment circumstances. The aim with the present study was to evaluate the occurrence of S. vulgaris and the possible association with usage of selective therapy. A total of 42 horse farms in Denmark were evaluated for the presence of S. vulgaris using individual larval cultures. Farms were either using a selective therapy principle based on regular fecal egg counts from all horses, or they treated strategically without using fecal egg counts. A total of 662 horses were included in the study. Covariate information at the farm and horse level was collected using a questionnaire. The overall prevalence of S. vulgaris was 12.2% at the individual level and 64.3% at the farm level. Farms using selective therapy had horse and farm prevalences of 15.4% and 83.3%, respectively, while the corresponding results for farms not using selective therapy were 7.7% and 38.9%. These findings were found statistically significant at both the horse and the farm level. Stud farms using selective therapy were especially at risk, and occurrence of S. vulgaris was significantly associated with the most recent deworming occurring more than six months prior. The results suggest that a strict interpretation of the selective therapy regimen can be associated with an increased prevalence of S. vulgaris. This suggests that modifications of the parasite control programs could be considered on the studied farms, but it remains unknown to which extent this can be associated with increased health risks for infected horses.

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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Strongyle parasites are ubiquitous in grazing horses. Strongylus vulgaris, the most pathogenic of the large strongyles, is known for its extensive migration in the mesenteric arterial system. The lifecycle of S. vulgaris is characterised by a long prepatent period where the migrating larvae are virtually undetectable as there currently is no test available for diagnosing prepatent S. vulgaris infection. Presence of S. vulgaris larvae in the arterial system causes endarteritis and thrombosis with a risk of non-strangulating intestinal infarctions. Emergence of anthelmintic resistance among cyathostomins has led to recommendations of reduced treatment intensity by targeting horses that exceed a predetermined strongyle faecal egg count threshold. One study suggests an apparent increase in prevalence of S. vulgaris on farms where reduced anthelmintic treatment intensity has been implemented. These issues highlight the need for an accurate and reliable assay for diagnosing prepatent S. vulgaris infection. METHODS: Immunoscreening of a larval S. vulgaris cDNA library using hyperimmune serum raised against S. vulgaris excretory/secretory antigens was performed to identify potential diagnostic antigens. Immunoreactive clones were sequenced, one potential antigen was characterised, expressed as a recombinant protein, initially evaluated by western blot (WB) analysis, the diagnostic potential of the IgG subclasses was evaluated by ELISA, and the diagnostic accuracy evaluated using serum from 102 horses with known S. vulgaris infection status. RESULTS: The clone expressing the potential antigen encoded a S. vulgaris SXP/RAL2 homologue. The recombinant protein, rSvSXP, was shown to be a potential diagnostic antigen by WB analysis, and a target of serum IgGa, IgG(T) and total IgG in naturally infected horses, with IgG(T) antibodies being the most reliable indicator of S. vulgaris infection in horses. Evaluation of diagnostic accuracy of the ELISA resulted in a sensitivity of 73.3%, a specificity of 81.0%, a diagnostic odds ratio of 11.69; a positive likelihood ratio (LR) of 3.85 and a negative LR was 0.33. The area under the ROC curve was 0.820. CONCLUSION: IgG(T) antibodies to recombinant SvSXP show potential for use as an antigen for prepatent diagnosis of migrating stages of S. vulgaris with moderate to good diagnostic accuracy.
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    ABSTRACT: The level of anthelmintic resistance within some cyathostomin parasite populations has increased to the level where sole reliance on anthelmintic-based control protocols is not possible. Management-based nematode control methods, including removal of faeces from pasture, are widely recommended for use in association with a reduction in anthelmintic use to reduce selection pressure for drug resistance; however, very little work has been performed to quantitatively assess the effectiveness of such methods. We analysed data obtained from 345 donkeys at The Donkey Sanctuary (Devon, UK), managed under three different pasture management techniques, to investigate the effectiveness of faeces removal in strongyle control in equids. The management groups were as follows: no removal of faeces from pasture, manual, twice-weekly removal of faeces from pasture and automatic, twice-weekly removal of faeces from pasture (using a mechanical pasture sweeper). From turn-out onto pasture in May, monthly faecal egg counts were obtained for each donkey and the dataset subjected to an auto regressive moving average model. There was little to no difference in faecal egg counts between the two methods of faecal removal; both resulted in significantly improved cyathostomin control compared to the results obtained from the donkeys that grazed pasture from which there was no faecal removal. This study represents a valuable and unique assessment of the effectiveness of the removal of equine faeces from pasture, and provides an evidence base from which to advocate twice-weekly removal of faeces from pasture as an adjunct for equid nematode control. Widespread adoption of this practice could substantially reduce anthelmintic usage, and hence reduce selection pressure for nematode resistance to the currently effective anthelmintic products.
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    ABSTRACT: Strongylus vulgaris is regarded as the most pathogenic helminth parasite infecting horses. Migrating larvae cause pronounced endarteritis and thrombosis in the cranial mesenteric artery and adjacent branches, and thromboembolism can lead to ischemia and infarction of large intestinal segments. A recently developed serum ELISA allows detection of S. vulgaris-specific antibodies during the six-month-long prepatent period. A population of horses has been maintained at the University of Kentucky without anthelmintic intervention since 1979, and S. vulgaris has been documented to be highly prevalent. In 2012, 12 foals were born in this population, and were studied during a 12-month period (March-March). Weekly serum samples were collected to monitor S. vulgaris specific antibodies with the ELISA. Nine colts underwent necropsy at different time points between 90 and 300 days of age. At necropsy, Strongylus spp. and Parascaris equorum were identified to species and stage and enumerated. Initial statistical findings indicate a significant interaction between foal age and ELISA results (p < 0.042). All foals had initial evidence of S. vulgaris-directed maternal antibodies transferred in the colostrum, but then remained ELISA negative during their first three months of life. Foals born in February and March became ELISA positive at about 12 weeks of age, while those born in April and May went positive at about 15 and 21 weeks, respectively. Foal date of birth was significantly associated with ELISA results (p < 0.0001). This could be explained by birth date-dependent differences in parasite exposure. One foal remained ELISA-negative throughout the course of 30 weeks during the study. A significant association was found between ELISA values and larval S. vulgaris burdens (p < 0.0001) as well as a three-way interaction between S. vulgaris, S. edentatus, and P. equorum burdens (p < 0.001). A plateau with a subsequent decline in ELISA values corresponded with S. vulgaris larvae leaving the bloodstream and migrating back to the intestine.
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