Our current understanding of differences in the epidemiology of gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) species in co-grazed sheep and goats is inadequate with reference to the development of sustainable control strategies. The next-generation metabarcoding sequencing method referred to as the 'nemabiome' allows some of these differences to be explored to describe the intensity of co-infecting GIN species. We applied this platform to study sheep and goats that were co-grazed on Guinea grass pasture in northeastern Brazil. Co-grazed goats and sheep were treated with a monepantel anthelmintic, then exposed to the same gastrointestinal nematode species. Overall, there were differences in the prevalence of GIN species identified in the sheep and goats; Trichostrongylus colubriformis and Teladorsagia circumcincta predominated in goat kids, while Haemonchus contortus predominated in adult does, ewes and lambs once burdens became re-established after anthelmintic treatment. Description of the pattern of re-infection following anthelmintic treatment was prevented by the unpredicted poor efficacy of 2.5 mg/kg and 5 mg/kg, respectively, of monepantel against O. columbianum and T. circumcincta in lambs, and T. circumcincta adult does. Differences in drug efficacy between host age and species groups may be important when considering sustainable GIN control strategies for co-grazed animals. The aggregated FECs of the adult does and goat kids representing re-established GIN burdens, were higher than those of the co-grazed adult ewes and lambs. This implies that there are inherent differences in GIN species adaptation to the two naïve small ruminant host species, and shows the need for better understanding of the factors giving rise to this situation associated with exposure to infective larvae and host responses. At the start of the study, the adult does were co-infected with several GIN species, with the highest intensity of T. circumcincta, contrasting with the situation in the adult ewes, in which H. contortus predominated. However, once burdens became re-established after treatment, H. contortus predominated in both adult does and ewes. This demonstrates the potential for host burdens of H. contortus to establish and predominate after anthelmintic treatment when burdens of co-infecting GIN species are low.
Keywords: Anthelmintic resistance; Co-grazing; Co-infection; Gastrointestinal nematodes; Goats; Sheep.
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