Occurrence and control of equine strongyle nematode infections in Prince Edward Island, Canada

William B. Stoughton, Samantha Begin, Susan Outman, Henrik Stryhn, Jenny Yu, Gary Conboy, Martin K. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Widespread overuse of anthelmintics has produced a growing population of intestinal parasites resistant to control measures. A paradigm shift in equine parasite control is warranted to prevent continued resistance development and maintain equine health. Small strongyles, which are ubiquitous in horses, are currently the most important intestinal parasites of adult horses. Sustainable management programs consider the variation in egg shedding by individual horses, and varied risks associated with age, use, density, climate, and environment. To develop regional recommendations for Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada, it is important to first characterize strongyle egg shedding patterns and parasite management practices in use. Study objectives were to conduct a cross-sectional observational survey and risk factor analysis of parasite control programs, strongyle egg shedding and Strongylus vulgaris serology. A total of 339 horses from 40 PEI farms were sampled. Mean farm size was 8 horses and ranged from 2 to 30. Mean horse age was 11.6 years (Std. Dev. =7.2) and ranged from 2 months to 32 years. Mean fecal egg count (FEC) was 322 eggs per gram (EPG) (Std. Dev. =648). On average, 32% (Std. Dev. =16%) of horses shed 80% of strongyle eggs across 32 eligible farms. When considering all horses (n = 313) as one large herd, 18.7% of horses shed 80% of strongyle eggs. Use of FEC was identified in 4.6% of horses at 15% (n = 6) of PEI farms. Reported deworming intervals included 37.4% (n = 123) every 2–3 months and 58% (n = 191) every 3–4 months. Positive S. vulgaris titers were identified in 60% of horses (n = 200). Univariate analysis revealed that months since last deworming, age, and body condition score (BCS) were associated with strongyle shedding. The estimated odds of being in the high FEC category (>500 EPG) was 1.4 (95% CI, 1.1–1.8) times higher when last deworming increased by one month. Under-conditioned (BCS <4.5) horses had 3.6 (95% CI, 1.2–10.6) times odds of being in the higher FEC category than over-conditioned horses. Non-racing horses had 5.4 times odds of having a positive S. vulgaris titer than racehorses. This cross-sectional observational study is the first to report on the occurrence, risk factors and control of equine strongyle nematode infections in PEI, Canada. We conclude that the 80:20 rule can be used to develop control recommendations in PEI. Very few farms in PEI currently use FEC to guide parasite management. These findings provide a basis for future client education and investigations aimed at providing region specific recommendations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100856
JournalVeterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports
StatePublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023


  • Anthelmintic
  • Equine
  • Management
  • Parasites
  • Resistance
  • Strongyles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary


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