Risk factors for equine intestinal parasite infections and reduced efficacy of pyrantel embonate against Parascaris sp.

K. Hautala, Anu Näreaho, Oili Kauppinen, Martin K. Nielsen, A. Sukura, Päivi J. Rajala-Schultz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Gastrointestinal parasites, Parascaris sp. and strongyles, are common in young horses worldwide and control of these parasites is challenged by increasing anthelmintic resistance. Our aim was to identify risk factors for these infections as well as to assess the efficacy of fenbendazole (dose 7.5 mg/kg) and pyrantel embonate (dose 19 mg/kg) against Parascaris sp. We also evaluated association between owner observed symptoms and patent infections with these parasites. Fecal samples were collected from 367 young horses in Finland and a questionnaire study was conducted. Fecal egg counts were performed by Mini-FLOTAC® method. Univariable logistic regression models using patent infection status (Yes/No), separately for Parascaris sp. and strongyle infections as an outcome were run initially to screen potential risk factors collected by the questionnaire. After the initial screening, multiple logistic regression models were constructed and run to account for correlated data structure, risk factors and potential confounders simultaneously. Two significant risk factors for a patent Parascaris sp. infection were found: breeding farm size (p = 0.028) and frequency of horse movements (p = 0.010). Horses originating from large breeding farms were more likely (OR = 2.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.10–5.51) to shed Parascaris sp. eggs upon relocation to training stables compared to horses originating from small breeding farms. Horses living in farms with frequent horse movements to other premises had higher odds (OR = 3.56, 95% CI: 1.35–9.39) of a patent Parascaris sp. infection compared to farms with less frequent horse movements. Risk factors for patent strongyle infection included age (p < 0.001) and season (p = 0.017). Horses were less likely (OR = 0.27, 95% CI: 0.10 - 0.66) to shed strongylid eggs during the spring compared to the winter. Horses excreting over 200 ascarid eggs per gram were included in the anthelmintic efficacy trial. A mean FECR less than 90% was interpreted as presence of anthelmintic resistance. The mean FECR was 98.5% (95% CI: 95.8–100) and 68.0% (95% CI: 52.7–83.3) in the fenbendazole (n = 31) and pyrantel (n = 26) treatment groups, respectively. In conclusion, we identified two new risk factors for patent Parascaris sp. infection; breeding farm size and frequency of horse movements. Reduced efficacy of pyrantel against Parascaris sp. was observed for the second time in Europe. A relatively high Parascaris sp. prevalence in yearlings (34%) and two-year-olds (20%) was observed, which has not been reported earlier. An association between symptoms and a patent Parascaris sp. infection was observed in foals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-59
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
StatePublished - Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Anthelmintic resistance
  • Efficacy
  • Egg count
  • Parascaris
  • Pyrantel
  • Risk factor
  • Strongyle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary


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