Benzimidazole resistance in Nematodirus spathiger and N. filicollis in New Zealand

Benzimidazole resistance in Nematodirus spathiger and N. filicollis in New Zealand
Peer reviewed


AIM: To determine the prevalence of benzimidazole resistance in Nematodirus spathiger and N. filicollis from a sample of New Zealand farms.

METHODS: The efficacy of albendazole (ABZ) against Nematodirus spp. was assessed by faecal nematode egg count reduction (FECR) tests undertaken in lambs aged 3–8 months old on 27 sheep farms throughout New Zealand. On each farm, groups of 10–16 lambs were either treated with ABZ (4.75 mg/kg) or remained as untreated controls. Faecal samples were collected from all animals at the time of treatment and 7–10 days later. Faecal nematode egg counts (FEC) were performed using a modified McMaster technique. Larvae were cultured from pooled faecal samples, collected 7–10 days after treatment from each group, by incubation at 20°C for 6 weeks, 4°C for 26 weeks then 13°C for 2 weeks. The resulting third stage larvae were identified to species using a multiplex PCR assay, that identified species-specific sequences in the second internal transcribed spacer region of ribosomal DNA. The efficacy of ABZ for N. spathiger and N. filicollis was calculated from the proportion of the two species in culture and the group mean FEC before and after treatment. Only farms with a mean of 10 epg for each species in untreated samples were included for analysis. Resistance was defined as an efficacy <95%.

RESULTS: On farms that met the threshold of 10 epg in faecal samples, benzimidazole resistance was found on 20/21 (95%) farms for N. spathiger compared with 4/10 (40%) farms for N. filicollis (p<0.05). In samples collected following treatment, a mean of 83 (min 46, max 100)% of Nematodirus spp. larvae recovered from the untreated groups were N. spathiger, compared with 94 (min 45, max 100)% in the ABZ treated groups (p=0.03). This change in percentage was not influenced by the overall efficacy of treatment based on the FECR test (p=0.324).

CONCLUSION: The results confirm the high level of resistance in N. spathiger in New Zealand and that benzimidazole resistance was more common in N. spathiger than N. filicollis. While resistance to benzimidazole anthelmintics has been reported previously in New Zealand, this is the first report of N. filicollis being resistant to benzimidazole anthelmintics.

KEY WORDS: Nematodirus, spathiger, N. filicollis, anthelmintic, resistance, benzimidazole

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