Fungus Might Help Control Strongyles Environmentally

Researchers trying to find alternatives to control strongyles, which are developing resistance to current dewormers, are looking at a fungus to control the parasitic worms environmentally.

"Due to the emergence of anthelminthic resistance of the worms in horses, current treatments have not been fully effective," said Juliana Milani Araujo, MSc, of Universidad Federal de Vicosa in Brazil. "So researchers are looking for new alternatives to control the parasites.

"Researchers around the world have been seeking new alternatives to control worms in horses and other livestock," she continued. "Among these alternatives, the environmental control of worms using nematophagous fungi has shown promising results."

Araujo and her colleagues used nematophagous fungi--living organisms that are harmless to people, the environment, and animals but kill infective larvae of Strongyloides westeri (the cause of strongyles in Brazil)--in pasture. They found that the fungus decreased larvae in pasture, thus limiting the number of parasites to which the horse was exposed. As a result, the horses needed fewer treatments with an anthelminthic.

"These fungi cause the destruction of infective larvae present on pasture," said Araujo. That reduced the recurrence of infections caused by the worms, she said. While she recommended continuing to use chemical treatments, she said that the fungus can complement the anthelminthic.

Until such biological controls become available, horse owners should not use antheminthic drugs indiscriminately, Araujo said. "The use of the same class of anthelminthic, the rapid rotation of the compounds, and the use of doses below those recommended should be avoided."

Araujo and her colleagues predict that such biological controls will be used on farms in the near future.

The study, "In vitro predatory activity of nematophagous fungi and after passing through gastrointestinal tract of equine on infective larvae of Strongyloides westeri," was published online ahead of print in the April Parasitology Research.

The abstract is available on PubMed.

About the Author

Marie Rosenthal, MS

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