, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 953-957
Date: 07 Apr 2011

Monitoring drug efficacy against gastrointestinal nematodes when faecal egg counts are low: do the analytic sensitivity and the formula matter?

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The faecal egg count reduction test (FECR) is the recommended technique to monitor anthelmintic drug efficacy in livestock. However, results are often inconclusive due to the low analytic sensitivity of the diagnostic technique or the conflict in results from FECR formulae. A novel experimental set-up was, therefore, used to compare the impact of analytic sensitivity and formulae on FECR results. Four McMaster techniques (analytic sensitivities 50, 33.3, 15 and 10) and a FLOTAC technique (analytic sensitivity ~ 1) were used on faecal samples of 30 calves with a FEC of less than 200 eggs per gram. True drug efficacies of 70%, 80% and 90% were experimentally mimicked by comparing FEC before and after dilution (3:10, 2:10 and 1:10, respectively). The FECR was summarized using group (FECR(1)) and individual (FECR(2)) based formulae. There was a significant increase in precision of FECR when the analytic sensitivity increased (p < 0.0001). The precision also depended on the formula used, FECR(1) (p < 0.05) resulting in more precise FECR compared to FECR(2). The accuracy of the FECR differed marginally between the two formulae (p = 0.06), FECR(1) being more accurate. In conclusion, the present study describes a novel methodology to compare techniques for the precision and the accuracy of their FECR results. The results underscored that techniques with high analytic sensitivity will improve the interpretation of FECR in animal populations where baseline FEC are low. They also point out that the precision of individual-based formulae is affected by the analytic sensitivity.