Studies on gastrointestinal nematodes of alpacas

The University of Melbourne

  • Project code: PRJ-009985

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Monday, December 15, 2014

  • Project completion date: Friday, August 31, 2018

  • National Priority: ALP-Alpaca


Parasitic gastroenteritis is associated with infections of a variety of gastrointestinal nematodes (GINs) and is a major concern for alpacas throughout the world. Some GINs appear to be host-specific (Graphinema auchenia, Mazamastrongylus peruviana, Lamanema chavezi, Nematodirus lamae), that occur in alpacas’ native habitats; while others are shared with domestic livestock (e.g., Cooperia spp., Haemonchus contortus, Nematodirus spp., Oesophagostomum spp., Ostertagia ostertagi, Teladorsagia circumcincta, Trichostrongylus spp., Trichuris spp.,) which occur worldwide. Both these groups of GINs can lead to production losses and even death of alpacas. Although shared GINs of alpacas have been the subject of intermittent study over the past 20 years, the epidemiologic information on these GINs is still lacking and, in many instances, researchers continue to extrapolate information from the same or similar species of GINs found in domestic livestock in different geographic or climatic regions. This situation is not dissimilar in Australia as very little is known about the epidemiology of the GINs of alpacas in the country. Carmicahel (1999, RIRDC Publication No 99/140) provided the first insights into the prevalence of GINs of alpacas in Australia; however, this study was limited to only five farms in one zone (winter rainfall). Given that no registered anthelmintics are available for alpacas, these animals are usually treated at 1-1.5 times the on-label sheep dose of commercially available anthelmintics. In addition, an alpaca owner survey (from the UK) showed that farmers relied heavily on anthelmintics for the control of GINs (Tait et al., 2002, Vet Rec 150,638-7). Owing to the frequent and indiscriminate use of anthelmintics by alpaca farmers, anthelmintic resistance in GINs of alpacas is an emerging problem in Australia (Jabbar et al. 2013, Parasit and Vectors, 6, 243) as well as other countries.



Research Organisation

The University of Melbourne

Objective Summary

1. To assess the worm control practices used by alpaca farmers in Australia by conducting a questionnaire
2. To determine the prevalence of GINs of alpacas in various climatic zones in Australia, using traditional and the
latest molecular diagnostic methods;
3. To undertake field efficacy studies to determine the status of anthelmintic resistance in GINs of alpacas;
4. To train a research higher degree (MPhil/PhD) student.