Honors College Thesis


Gastrointestinal Parasitism in Healthy Show South American Camelids Public Deposited

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  • Camelid health and parasitology experts disagree on what a “safe” level of internal parasitism is in camelids. The objective was to determine the levels of parasitism in show camelids (llamas and alpacas). The hypothesis was that fecal egg counts (FEC) in camelid would differ based upon geographic location, species (llama or alpaca), sex, age and time. Samples were collected from fresh fecal piles from camelids competing at the 2008 and 2017 ALSA (Alpaca Llama Show Association) Grand National Show. Parasite eggs were concentrated using a double centrifugation flotation method. FEC were then quantified under a microscope and the average number of samples per group were reported. A one-way analysis of variance was used to compare effects of location, sex and age on fecal egg counts. A two-way Students t test was used to compare the effect of species and time. In 2017, nearly all the samples (90.8%; 59/65) were positive for at least one trichostrongylid nematode egg. Eggs were not identified to genus or species level as they are morphologically similar, with the exception of Nematodirus spp. Members of this genus have very large eggs, and hence can be easily differentiated from other trichostrongyles. Trichuris sp. was also observed. Trichostrongyles and Nematodirus sp. were the most common eggs identified. Animals from the Southeastern region had significantly more parasites than any other region of the United States. There was also no significant difference in parasite prevalence between llamas (91.2%; 52/57) and alpacas (87.5%; 7/8). Although statistically insignificant, there were more parasite positive females (100%; 21/21) compared to males (86.2%; 25/29) and geldings (86.7%; 13/15). Adult animals showed an insignificantly lower prevalence of positive samples (83.8%; 31/37) than crias (100%; 4/4), yearlings (100%; 16/16) and two-year-old’s (100%; 8/8). The results of the current study were similar to the 2008 study as trichostrongyles remained the most common fecal parasite egg observed. However, trichostrongyles increased from approximately 10 eggs/gram of feces in 2008 to 247 eggs/gram of feces in 2017. A similar trend was observed for the Nematodirus sp. (2008: 6 eggs; 2017: 25 eggs) and Trichuris sp. (2008: 1.5 eggs/gram; 2017: 7 eggs/gram). The total number of parasite eggs/gram of feces increased from 2008 to 2017 (25 eggs to 280 eggs, respectively; p<0.0001). In summary, the number of parasite eggs/healthy animal has increased over the past decade, which may indicate that the nematodes are developing resistance to commonly used deworming medications.
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