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In the framework of a trial carried out in 2008 in Europe to evaluate the efficacy of major parasiticides against horse cyathostomins, pre- and/or post-treatment Faecal Egg Counts (FEC) were evaluated in a total of 84 yards and 2105 horses from nine different regions from the South, the Center, the North-Center and North-East of Italy. Specifically, on the basis of FECs of the horses present in each property, 60 out of the 84 yards were enrolled for a Faecal Egg Count Reduction Test (FECRT) using fenbendazole, pyrantel, ivermectin and moxidectin.
Of the 1646 horses bred in the 60 recruited yards, 416 animals had a FEC between 50 and 150 Eggs Per Gram (EPG) of faeces and 694 a FEC >150 EPG (i.e. with total of 1110 positive animals). Of the 1110 positive animals, those with the highest FECs (i.e. 988) were included in the FECRT. The FECRT for four anthelmintic compounds showed remarkable differences in terms of prevalence of reduced and equivocal efficacy against cyathostomins in the different areas of Italy. Administration of fenbendazole and pyrantel resulted in resistance present or suspected in about half of the yards examined while resistance to ivermectin was found in one yard from central Italy and suspected resistance was detected in three more yards, one in each the North, the Center and the South. Treatment with moxidectin was 100% effective in all yards examined.
Cyathostomin populations in the South and the Center of Italy were more susceptible to fenbendazole and pyrantel than the populations present in the Center-North and North-Eastern areas of Italy. Fenbendazole and/or pyrantel were ineffective in almost all properties from the North of Italy. The reasons for such a difference among the Italian regions in terms of FECs and efficacy of antiparasitic drugs are discussed, together with the role that veterinarians, and horse owners and managers should have for effective worm control programs in this country.