Epidemiology of gastrointestinal nematodes of alpacas in Australia: I. A cross-sectional study
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This study involved a national cross-sectional survey of gastrointestinal nematodes (GINs) of alpacas in Australia. A total of 1545 fresh faecal samples were collected from both sexes of alpacas and processed for faecal egg counts (FEC) and molecular identification of nematodes using the multiplexed tandem PCR assay. Based on egg morphology, the overall prevalence of GINs was 66% while that for strongyles was 59%. The overall mean FEC was 276 eggs per gram (EPG) of faeces, with the highest count of 17,415 EPG. Male alpacas had a higher prevalence (68%, 334/490) as well as mean FEC (328 ± 60 EPG) of GINs than females (63%, 602/954; 227 ± 26, respectively). Weaners had the highest prevalence (80%) whereas tuis had the highest FEC (402 EPG) of nematodes. The highest prevalence (77%, 293/383) and FEC (630 EPG) of GINs were observed in the summer rainfall zone followed by the Mediterranean-type rainfall, non-seasonal rainfall and winter rainfall zones. The characterisation of nematode DNA isolated from faeces revealed the occurrence of seven different GINs, including Camelostrongylus mentulatus, Cooperia spp., Haemonchus spp., Oesophagostomum spp., Ostertagia ostertagi, Teladorsagia circumcincta and Trichostrongylus spp. Besides, Nematodirus spp. and Trichuris spp. were also found during FECs. The prevalence of Haemonchus spp. was highest in the summer rainfall zone while that of C. mentulatus was highest in the Mediterranean-type rainfall, non-seasonal rainfall and winter rainfall zones. The findings of this study revealed that alpacas harbour many of the same nematodes as sheep and cattle.
KeywordsGastrointestinal nematodes Prevalence Worm burden Camelostrongylus Alpacas Australia
We are grateful to alpaca farmers across Australia who provided faecal samples for this study. 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.
The financial assistance for this project was provided by the AgriFutures Australia and the Australian Alpaca Association.
Compliance with ethical standards
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
The questionnaire was approved by the Human Ethics Committee (Ethics ID 1443529) of the University of Melbourne. The participants of the survey were registered members of the Australian Alpaca Association (AAA), and their participation in the study was entirely voluntary. All active members of the AAA received an invitation through email from the head office of the AAA to participate in the survey. The use of alpacas in this study was approved by the Animal Ethics Committee (AEC no. 1413412.1) of the University of Melbourne. A plain language statement about the project was provided to participating alpaca farmers before obtaining their written consent.
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