Tactical treatment with copper oxide wire particles and symptomatic levamisole treatment using the FAMACHA© system in indigenous goats in South Africa

Haemonchosis is considered to be the most economically important gastrointestinal disease of small ruminants in the tropics and subtropics. However, chemical anthelmintics, which were the mainstay of control, have been compromised by a high prevalence of resistance worldwide. Copper oxide wire particles (COWP) have been shown to have anthelmintic effects, but few studies have examined their use under field conditions. The use of COWP was therefore evaluated as a tactical anthelmintic treatment in indigenous goats raised under communal farming conditions in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. At the beginning of the summer rainfall season (October 2007), the faecal egg counts of 172 female goats belonging to 15 farmers were determined and this sampling continued every four weeks until the second week of January 2008. The goats within each of the 15 herds were ranked according to their faecal egg counts for this week. The goats were sequentially paired off within each ranking starting with those goats with the highest counts. One goat from each pair was randomly allocated to a treated or control group. Two weeks later, a 4 g COWP bolus was randomly administered to each goat in the treated group. Faecal egg counts were carried out on the goats two weeks following treatment, and the sampling of the goats then proceeded every four weeks until October 2008. Except for the six-week period prior to the administration of the COWP, the goats were examined according to the FAMACHA© system and symptomatically treated with 12 mg/kg levamisole when anaemic. The percentage reduction in faecal egg count due to the COWP treatment was 89.0%. Mean pre- and post-treatment faecal egg counts for the COWP-treated group (n = 73) were 2 347 eggs per gram of faeces (epg) and 264 epg, respectively. The corresponding values for the untreated controls (n = 66) were 2 652 epg and 2 709 epg. The prevalence of Haemonchus spp. larvae in pre- and post-treatment faecal cultures was 72% and 46% respectively. Symptomatic anthelmintic treatments in combination with mid-summer tactical treatments with COWP appear to be useful strategies for the control of H. contortus in indigenous goats in this farming system and this approach could have application in other similar agro-ecological zones.