The effect of climate, season, and treatment intensity on anthelmintic resistance in cyathostomins: A modelling exercise

Martin K. Nielsen, Christian W. Sauermann, Dave M. Leathwick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Anthelmintic resistance is widespread in equine cyathostomin populations across the world, and with no new anthelmintic drug classes in the pharmaceutical pipeline, the equine industry is forced to abandon traditional parasite control regimens. Current recommendations aim at reducing treatment intensity and identifying high strongylid egg shedders in a targeted treatment approach. But, virtually nothing is known about the effectiveness of these recommendations, nor their applicability to different climatic regions, making it challenging to tailor sustainable recommendations for equine parasite control. This study made use of a computer model of the entire cyathostomin life-cycle to evaluate the influence of climate and seasonality on the development of anthelmintic resistance in cyathostomin parasites. Furthermore, the study evaluated the impact of recommended programs involving selective anthelmintic therapy on delaying anthelmintic resistance development. All simulations evaluated the use of a single anthelmintic (i.e., ivermectin) over the course of 40 model years. The study made use of weather station data representing four different climatic zones: a cold humid continental climate, a temperate oceanic climate, a cold semi-arid climate, and a humid subtropical climate. Initially, the impact of time of the year was evaluated when a single anthelmintic treatment was administered once a year in any of the twelve months. The next simulations evaluated the impact of treatment intensities varying between 2 and 6 treatments per year. And finally, we evaluated treatment schedules consisting of a combination of strategic treatments administered to all horses and additional treatments administered to horses exceeding a predetermined fecal egg count threshold. Month of treatment had a large effect on resistance development in colder climates, but little or no impact in subtropical and tropical climates. Resistance development was affected by treatment intensity, but was also strongly affected by climate. Selective therapy delayed resistance development in all modelled scenarios, but, again, this effect was climate dependent with the largest delays observed in the colder climates. This study is the first to demonstrate the value of cyathostomin parasite refugia in managing anthelmintic resistance, and also that climate and seasonality are important. This modelling exercise has allowed an illustration of concepts believed to play important roles in anthelmintic resistance in equine cyathostomins, but has also identified knowledge gaps and new questions to address in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-12
Number of pages6
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
StatePublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Dr. Jay Donecker for initiating this project and Dr. Thomas Geurden for his encouragement and support. This work was principally funded by a grant from Zoetis with additional funding from AgResearch SSIF . The University of Kentucky, Department of Veterinary Science Clay Fellowship Fund supported Dr. Nielsen’s sabbatical at AgResearch in 2018.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Anthelmintic resistance
  • Climate
  • Cyathostomin
  • Refugia
  • Selective therapy
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Veterinary (all)


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