Diagnostic Strategies for Monitoring Strongyle Populations in Exotic Hoofstock Species in Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Collections
Endoparasites are a substantial health concern affecting ruminants, domestic and non-domestic, in Florida. Collections housed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® have experienced notable morbidity and mortality in exotic artiodactylids due to the stomach worm, Haemonchus spp., which thrives in the state’s warm, humid climate.
Historically, parasite control programs in zoological institutions, including this collection, have relied heavily on empirical, anthelminthic rotations to decrease or eliminate parasite burdens. With the inherent challenges of orally and parenterally medicating zoological hoof stock species, sub-therapeutic dosing may produce a risk of drug resistance. Furthermore, costs of developing new drugs for domestic ungulates animals minimize new product development and marketing. In the domestic animal industry, anthelmintics alone can no longer be relied upon to control parasites. This concern impacts zoological collections both in terms of animal health and animal welfare, especially in parasite-rich environments.
Disney’s® Animal Programs has developed a comprehensive diagnostic and treatment strategy for Haemonchus and other strongyle spp. in hoofstock. The program was modeled after those developed for the domestic small ruminant industry in response to serious anthelmintic resistance issues. Components of this parasite control program include: quarterly McMaster’s fecal egg counts, annual fecal larval cultures and genus identification, fecal egg count reduction rates in association with anthelmintic treatment, in vitro larval development assays to determine anthelminthic sensitivity patterns and resistance issues, and quarterly pasture larval counts.