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A large survey was carried out in 2008 in Europe to evaluate the efficacy of fenbendazole (FBZ), pyrantel (PYR), ivermectin (IVM) and moxidectin (MOX), i.e. the major anthelmintic molecules used in current practice against cyathostomins affecting horses. A total of 102 yards and 1704 horses was studied in three countries: 60 yards and 988 horses from Italy, 22 and 396 from the UK, 20 and 320 from Germany. The survey consisted of Faecal Egg Count Reduction Tests (FECRTs) with a faecal egg count reduction (FECR) categorization of (I) resistance present if FECR <90% and the lower 95% confidence limit (LCL) <90%, (II) resistance suspected if FECR >/= 90% and/or LCL <90% and (III) no resistance if FECR >/= 90% and LCL >90%. The calculation of FECR data was performed employing bootstrap analysis of group arithmetic means.
The testing of FBZ on a total of 80 yards resulted in resistance present on more than 80% of the UK and German yards and on significantly fewer in Italy, i.e. in 38% (p < 0.01). PYR, IVM and MOX were tested on a total of 102 yards. For PYR resistance present was found in 25% of the yards with no significant differences between countries. For IVM resistance present was encountered in one Italian and two UK yards (3%), resistance present to MOX was not found in any yard in any country.
The results indicate that single and/or multiple drug resistance in equine cyathostomins is present in the three countries, is widespread particularly for FBZ and/or PYR and in one UK yard multiple resistance present was detected to FBZ, PYR and IVM. Macrocylic lactones proved to be the most effective drugs, with some evidence of resistance to IVM and highest activity of MOX, despite a single case of reduced efficacy in Germany. These data call for the development and implementation, among practitioners, owners and managers, of further plans to reduce the expansion of the anthelmintic resistant populations and to use those anthelmintics that remain effective in a manner that preserves their efficacy as long as possible.