Proof of concept of faecal egg nematode counting as a practical means of veterinary engagement with planned livestock health management in a lower income country

Eithne Leahy, Mark Bronsvoort, Luke Gamble, Andrew Gibson, Henderson Kaponda, Dagmar Mayer, Stella Mazeri, Kate Shervell, Neil Sargison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The wellbeing and livelihood of farmers in impoverished regions of the world is intrinsically linked to the health and welfare of their livestock; hence improved animal health is a pragmatic component of poverty alleviation. Prerequisite knowledge and understanding of the animal health challenges facing cattle keepers in Malawi is constrained by the lack of veterinary infrastructure, which inevitably accompanies under-resourced rural development in a poor country.
We collaborated with public and private paraveterinary services to locate 62 village Zebu calves and 60 dairy co-operative calves dispersed over a wide geographical area. All calves were visited twice about 2 to 3 weeks apart, when they were clinically examined and faecal samples were collected. The calves were treated with 7.5 mg/kg of a locally-available albendazole drench on the first visit, and pre- and post- treatment trichostrongyle and Toxocara faecal egg counts were performed using a modified McMaster method.
Our clinical findings point towards a generally poor level of animal health, implying a role of ticks and tick-transmitted diseases in village calves and need for improvement in neonatal calf husbandry in the dairy co-operative holdings. High faecal trichostrongyle egg counts were not intuitive, based on our interpretation of the animal management information that was provided. This shows the need for better understanding of nematode parasite epidemiology within the context of local husbandry and environmental conditions. The albendazole anthelmintic was effective against Toxocara, while efficacy against trichostrongyle nematodes was poor in both village and dairy co-operative calves, demonstrating the need for further research to inform sustainable drug use.
Here we describe the potential value of faecal nematode egg counting as a platform for communicating with and gaining access to cattle keepers and their animals, respectively, in southern Malawi, with the aim of providing informative background knowledge and understanding that may aid in the establishment of effective veterinary services in an under-resourced community.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16
JournalIrish Veterinary Journal
Issue number1
Early online date2 Jun 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jun 2017


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