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Open Access Research article

A randomized triple blind trial to assess the effect of an anthelmintic programme for working equids in Morocco

Michael A Crane1*, Khalid Khallaayoune2, Claire Scantlebury3 and Robert M Christley3

Author Affiliations

1 Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad, 14 John St, London. UK. WC1N 2EB

2 Department of Parasitology, Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Hassan II, B.P. 6202, Rabat-Instituts, Morocco

3 Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, CH64 6QP

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BMC Veterinary Research 2011, 7:1  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-1

Published: 5 January 2011

Abstract

Background

Gastro-intestinal parasitism has been identified as a significant cause of disease in working equids in many countries. This randomized triple-blind trial was designed to assess the impact of an anthelmintic treatment programme (using oral ivermectin and fenbendazole) comparing treated and placebo control populations of working donkeys, mules and horses in field conditions in Morocco. In particular, we assessed animal body weight and condition score, together with a questionnaire-based owner evaluation of number of subjective animal health parameters. Faecal worm egg count was also measured.

Results

239 animals completed the full study, 130 in the treatment group and 109 in the control group. Although the average animal weight increased during the study, this change was not significantly different between the two groups. Animals in the treatment group had a significantly lower strongyle worm egg count and increased in body condition score compared to animals in the control group at each examination during the study period. Owners of animals in the treatment group reported improvement in health and work ability and a beneficial effect on pruritus during the early period of the study. These differences in owner perception between treatment groups had disappeared in the latter stages of the study.

Conclusion

This study demonstrated that a routine anthelmintic treatment programme of three treatments annually can have a significant effect on faecal worm egg count. There may be beneficial consequences for the animal health and productivity. Further research on other populations of working equids in different environments would facilitate the objective planning of effective parasite control strategies for specific situations and provide better understanding of the likely clinical benefits of such programmes.