Managing anthelmintic resistance : Is it feasible in New Zealand to delay the emergence of resistance to a new anthelmintic class ?

Managing anthelmintic resistance : Is it feasible in New Zealand to delay the emergence of resistance to a new anthelmintic class ?
Peer reviewed


The recent registration in New Zealand of the first new class of broad-spectrum anthelmintic, for use against nematode parasites of ruminants, in nearly three decades has raised the possibility that parasite management practices could be improved to minimise the emergence of resistance to the new drug. A review of knowledge pertaining to the selection of anthelmintic resistance in nematode parasites of sheep highlights a number of management practices which could be altered to achieve this.
A number of previously common practices such as whole-flock treatment of adult ewes around lambing, and treatment of lambs as they are moved onto pastures with low parasite contamination have been clearly identified as high risk for selecting resistant parasites. Once high-risk practices have been identified steps can be taken to either eliminate their use or mitigate the associated risk. Much of the focus on the management of resistance around the world is on the retention of susceptible genotypes in refugia. While approaches to retaining unselected parasites are likely to vary around the world, empirical studies indicate that the practice is likely to be effective at slowing the development of resistance. The challenge for farmers and advisors will be to strike a balance between retaining sufficient susceptible parasites to usefully delay the development of resistance while not unduly compromising animal performance and farm profitability. The merits of combining different classes of anthelmintic in order to slow the development of resistance remains somewhat contentious in some countries. However, the attributes of oral anthelmintics are such that they seem likely to meet most, if not all, of the criteria for combinations to be highly effective at slowing the build-up of resistance in nematode parasites.
It is evident that considerable progress has been made in understanding the factors involved in selecting anthelmintic-resistant nematodes since the last broad-spectrum anthelmintic class was released in the early 1980s. Therefore, it should be possible to manage a new class of anthelmintic in such a way as to significantly extend its effective life. The challenge is likely to be in convincing farmers of the merits of adopting such pro-active strategies.
KEY WORDS: Anthelmintic resistance, nematode parasites, refugia, risk, combination, monepantel

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