Don’t Just Treat It; Stand There: Strategies for Managing Parasites in a Changing World
Department of Infectious Diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
Gastrointestinal parasites are a significant health concern for both domestic and non-domestic ruminants resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. In exotic artiodactylids, the primary species of concern in most collections are Haemonchus spp., which thrive in warm, humid climates. Other species can predominate in cool temperate regions, but these tend to be less pathogenic and generally are of less concern. Historically, parasite control programs in zoological institutions have relied heavily on empirical anthelmintic treatment programs, without the benefit of proper diagnostic surveillance. However, in recent years the gastrointestinal parasites of ruminants, both domestic and exotic, have developed high levels of resistance to many, and in some cases all available anthelmintic drugs. This development is causing grave concern for many zoological collections. In addition, the pharmacokinetics of anthelmintics is mostly unknown for exotic species, thus accurate dosing is a challenge. Consequently, it is becoming clear that old traditional approaches to parasite control are failing, and new strategies are required. Parasite control now and in the future must become more evidence-based, relying on constant surveillance of parasite loads, the use of fewer treatments and the regular testing of anthelmintics for resistance. In addition, the implementation of novel, non-chemical approaches in a program referred to as ‘sustainable integrated parasite management’ will need to be embraced.