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Anthelmintics for the control of nematode infections in the brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)

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AIMS: To determine the efficacy of eprinomectin, doramectin and a combination of albendazole and levamisole in suppressing or eliminating nematode infections or faecal egg counts (FEC) in possums naturally or experimentally infected with Parastrongyloides trichosuri, Paraustrostrongylus trichosuri and Trichostrongylus colubriformis.

METHODS: To establish an effective dose of eprinomectin, groups of naturally infected possums were treated with 0, 0.5, 2.5, 5.0 or 7.5 mg/kg liveweight (LW) eprinomectin pour-on (n=6 possums/group) and changes in FEC and nematode worm counts at necropsy determined, 18 days later. Efficacy of the 7.5 mg/kg dose was re-examined in a second group of naturally infected possums (n=12) by monitoring FEC weekly for 28 days post-treatment. Persistence of the anthelmintic effect of doramectin injection was tested using nematode-free possums treated with 0, 0.2, 0.4, 0.6 or 0.8 mg/kg LW (n=3 possums/ group), which were experimentally infected 14 days later with T. colubriformis, Paraustrostrongylus trichosuri and Parastrongyloides trichosuri infective larvae. Response to treatment was assessed by FEC and nematode worm counts at necropsy, 42 days posttreatment. Efficacy of a 1.0 mg/kg dose of doramectin was subsequently examined using naturally infected possums (n=11) by monitoring FEC weekly for 28 days post-treatment. To determine the efficacy of a levamisole-albendazole combination drench, possums with naturally acquired nematode infections (n=6) were treated orally with 37.5 mg/kg LW levamisole plus 23.75 mg/kg LW albendazole on 2 occasions, 7 days apart, and response to treatment was assessed by monitoring FEC for 57 days.

RESULTS: Eprinomectin 7.5 mg/kg LW reduced Paraustrostrongylus trichosuri worm counts by 98 % (p<0.05). Doramectin 0.6 mg/kg LW reduced Parastrongyloides trichosuri and Trichostrongylus spp worm counts by 99% (p<0.05) and 0.8 mg/kg LW reduced Paraustrostrongylus trichosuri by 100% (p<0.05), in possums challenged with larvae 14 days after treatment. Treating possums with a levamisole-albendazole combination orally, twice, 7-days apart, reduced FEC by 99%.

CONCLUSIONS: The doses of anthelmintics required to effectively control nematodes in possums were higher than those recommended for animals for which they are currently registered. Possums tolerate the high dose rates of anthelmintics used in this study without apparent adverse effects.

KEY WORDS: Possum, Parastrong yloides trichosuri, Paraustrostrongylus trichosuri, Trichostrongylus spp, nematode, doramectin, eprinomectin, albendazole-levamisole.

Keywords: Anthelmintics; Nematodes; Parasitology - internal; Possum

Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: 2001-04-01

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