Epidemiology of gastrointestinal nematodes of alpacas in Australia: II. A longitudinal study
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We conducted a longitudinal survey on 13 alpaca farms in four climatic zones of Australia to understand the epidemiology of gastrointestinal nematodes (GINs) of alpacas. A total of 1688 fresh faecal samples were collected from both sexes of alpacas from May 2015 to April 2016 and processed for faecal egg counts (FEC) and molecular identification of eggs using the multiplexed-tandem PCR assay. Based on egg morphology, the overall prevalence of GINs was 61% while that for strongyles was 53%. The overall mean FEC was 168 eggs per gram (EPG) of faeces, with the highest count of 15,540 EPG. Weaners had the highest prevalence (73%) and mean FEC (295 EPG) of GINs followed by tuis, crias and adults. Alpacas in the winter rainfall zone had the highest prevalence (68%) as well as FEC (266 EPG) followed by Mediterranean-type, non-seasonal and summer rainfall zones. Trichostrongylus spp. (83%, 89/107), Haemonchus spp. (71%, 76/107) and Camelostrongylus mentulatus (63%, 67/107) were the three most common GINs of alpacas across all climatic zones. The mixed-effects zero-inflated negative binomial regression model used in this study showed that it could help to design parasite control interventions targeted at both the herd level and the individual alpaca level. The findings of this study showed that the epidemiology of GINs of alpacas is very similar to those of cattle and sheep, and careful attention should be paid when designing control strategies for domestic ruminants co-grazing with alpacas.
KeywordsLongitudinal Gastrointestinal Nematodes Prevalence Climatic Burden Camelostrongylus Alpacas Australia
We are grateful to alpaca farmers across Australia who provided faecal samples for this study.
The financial assistance for this project was provided by the AgriFutures Australia and the Australian Alpaca Association. M.H.R. is a grateful recipient of the Australian Postgraduate Award through the University of Melbourne and the PhD top-up scholarship from the AgriFutures Australia.
Compliance with ethical standards
The use of alpacas in this study was approved by the Animal Ethics Committee (AEC no. 1413412.1) of the University of Melbourne.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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