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Open Access Research

First report of anthelmintic resistance in Haemonchus contortus in alpacas in Australia

Abdul Jabbar*, Angus JD Campbell, Jennifer A Charles and Robin B Gasser

Author Affiliations

Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Melbourne, Werribee, VIC 3030, Australia

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Parasites & Vectors 2013, 6:243  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-6-243

Published: 22 August 2013

Abstract

Background

Parasitic nematodes can cause substantial clinical and subclinical problems in alpacas and anthelmintics are regularly used to control parasitic nematodes in alpacas. Although anthelmintic resistance has been reported in ruminants worldwide, very little is known about anthelmintic resistance in alpacas. The present study was carried out to confirm a suspected case of anthelmintic resistance in Haemonchus contortus in alpacas in Australia.

Methods

Post mortem examination of an alpaca was conducted to determine the cause of its death. To confirm a suspected case of macrocyclic lactone (ML) resistance in H. contortus in alpacas, a faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT) was performed using closantel (7.5 mg/kg) and ivermectin (0.2 mg/kg). Nematode species were identified by morphological and molecular methods.

Results

Post mortem examination of a 1-year-old female alpaca that had died following a brief period of lethargy, anorexia and recumbency revealed severe anaemia, hypoproteinaemia and gastric parasitism by adult Haemonchus contortus, despite recent abamectin (0.2 mg/kg) treatment. Based on these findings and the exclusive use of MLs in the herd over the preceding six years, ML resistance in parasitic nematodes of alpacas on this farm was suspected. FECRT revealed that the efficacy of closantel was 99% (95% CI 93-100), whereas that of ivermectin was 35% (95% CI 0-78), indicating that the treatment failure was likely due to the presence of ML-resistant nematodes. Larval culture of faecal samples collected following ivermectin treatment consisted of 99%‚ÄČH. contortus and 1% Cooperia oncophora, a result confirmed using a PCR assay.

Conclusions

This study provides the first evidence of ML resistance in H. contortus in alpacas in Australia. Based on the extent of anthelmintic resistance in sheep gastrointestinal nematodes in Australia, veterinarians and alpaca owners should be encouraged to implement integrated parasite management strategies to improve nematode control in alpacas.

Keywords:
Anthelmintic resistance; Alpaca; Macrocyclic lactones; Gastrointestinal nematodes; Haemonchus contortus