A survey of gastrointestinal nematode species in red deer (Cervus elaphus) farms in New Zealand using PCR

Tapia Escarate, D. - Lopez Villalobos, N. - Scott, I - Wilson, P. R. - Bisset, S. A. - Sanhueza, J. M. - Pomroy, W. E.
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Gastrointestinal nematodes are recognised as an animal health issue for farmed red deer. The aim of this study was to explore the range of species infecting farmed deer herds and their farm-level prevalence in New Zealand. Faecal samples were collected from 12-24-month-old deer (n = 6-26; mean 19) on 59 farms located in the North (n = 25) and South (n = 34) Islands. Sub-samples of faeces were pooled by farm and cultured to recover third stage larvae. Twenty four larvae were randomly selected and identified to species using a multiplex PCR (total = 1217 larvae). At farm-level the most prevalent nematodes were Oesophagostomum venulosum 83% (n = 49) and the deer-specific nematodes in the subfamily Ostertagiinae (= Ostertagia-type) including, Spiculoptera asymmetrica 73% (n = 43), Ostertagia leptospicularis 47% (n = 28), Spiculoptera spiculoptera 47% (n = 28). The recently identified Trichostrongylus askivali was present on 32% (n = 19) of the farms and Oesophagostomum sikae on 17% (n = 10). In the analysis of the total number of larvae identified, the proportion was in similar order, 45% (n = 548) were O. venulosum, 14% (n = 173) S. asymmetrica, 10% (n = 124) S. spiculoptera, 9% (n = 114) O. leptospicularis, T. askivali, 3% (n = 40) and only 2% were O. sikae (n = 20). This study is the first to show the farm-level prevalence of nematode species in deer in New Zealand and the first to use PCR as a diagnostic tool. It provides data consistent with cross-infection from sheep/cattle to deer, and provided tentative insights into the proportions of the main GIN species across the deer population including O. sikae and T. askivali which have only recently been identified in New Zealand.

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