A survey on gastro-intestinal nematodes in dairy cattle in the commewijne district (suriname)

A survey on gastro-intestinal neamtodes in dairy cattle in the Commewijne District (Suriname) A SURVEY ON GASTRO-INTESTINAL
Dr. P. X. M. Bastiaensen, dvm
Ministry of agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries. P/o. box 9262 · Paramaribo · Suriname. Summary

In this article, an attempt was made to assess the problem of gastrointestinal parasitism of nematodes in
adult dairy cattle in Commewijne (Suriname). Over a period of almost a year, dung from 51 cows was
sampled for nematodes, immediately following artificial insemination. Qualitative and quantitive (epg)
examination of the faeces for nematode egg's were performed using the MacMaster- and coproculture-
techniques. Faecal egg counts revealed overall low epg's (eggs per gram faeces) in all of the recovered
worm-types (Strongyloïdes, Trichuris and Strongylidae). No age or breed-related differences in epg were
found. Differentiation of species based on recognition of eggs or recognition of L3-larvae, revealed the
following genera in order of decreasing prevalence : Trichostrongylus, Haemonchus, Oesophagostomum,
Trichuris, Coöperia, Strongyloïdes
and Bunostomum.
In the view of these results, the conclusion is drawn that worm-infestations should not solely be held
responsible for the poor production results in dairy enterprises in Commewijne. Recommendations are
given with respect to the type of anthelmintics to be used and the frequency of dosing.


In dit artikel tracht de auteur een beeld te geven van de problematiek van maag-darm nematoden
(rondwormen) bij volwassen melkvee in het district Commewijne (Suriname). Gespreid over een periode
van bijna één jaar werden er meststalen genomen van in totaal 51 melkkoeien; dit onmiddellijk na het
uitvoeren van kunstmatige inseminatie bij deze dieren. De meststalen werden kwantitatief en kwalitatief
onderzocht op de aanwezigheid van nematode-eieren, gebruik makend van de MacMaster-techniek en
coprocultuur. De kwantitatieve ei-tellingen brachten overwegend lage epg's (eieren per gram faeces) aan
het licht en dit voor alle herkende wormtypes (Strongyloïdes, Trichuris en Strongylidae). Er werden
geen leeftijds- of ras-gebonden verschillen in epg vastgesteld. De differentiatie van de verschillende
wormgenera via differentiatie van de eieren of de L3-larven, bracht de volgende species aan het licht (in
dalende volgorde van voorkomen) : Trichostrongylus, Haemonchus, Oesophagostomum, Trichuris,
Coöperia, Strongyloïdes
en Bunostomum.
Gelet op deze resultaten kan besloten worden dat wormbesmettingen zeker niet alleen verantwoordelijk
mogen worden gesteld voor de over het algemeen slechte produktieresultaten in de melkveehouderij in
Commewijne. Gebaseerd op deze besluiten worden er enkele aanbevelingen gedaan met betrekking tot
de soorten en het gebruik van ontwormingsmiddelen.


The milkproduction-sector in Suriname has been neglected for the last few decades. Due to severe, but
inadequate government interference (fixed off-farm prices, government owned milk-board and
processing facilities, government involvement in distribution of inputs, etc.) local milkproduction
decreased dramatically in the seventies and eighties. Whereas even in the late sixties Suriname had a
surplus production of locally produced raw milk, it quickly became nearly fully dependent of imported
milkpowder in order to satisfy consumer demand. The rehabilitation of the milk-sector in Suriname is
now one of the main priorities within agricultural policy in Suriname. A decrease in government-
involvement and subsequent liberalization of the sector have led to renewed interest and increasing
investments in milkproduction in Suriname.
A survey on gastro-intestinal neamtodes in dairy cattle in the Commewijne District (Suriname)
The aim of this simple screening was to investigate the need for thorough and frequent dosing of dairy
cattle, as it is propagated in Suriname by veterinarians, animal health assistants and extension workers in
order to enhance milkproduction. The general idea concerning the use of anthelmintics in Suriname is
that the very humid and hot climate which is typical of the Surinam coastal area, where most of the
animal husbandry is situated, calls for frequent deworming of all livestock, especially young animals and
animals with breeding influences of temperate zone (dairy) breeds, like Holstein, Friesian, Holstein-
Friesian or Brown Swiss.
Since anthelmintics are very expensive (while imported from the USA, Europe or Brasil) in comparison
to the off-farm prices of meat and especially raw milk, dosing is the most important veterinary cost
involved in animal husbandry in this country. It is therefore imperative to understand the epidemiology
of the common gastro-intestinal nematodes in the prevailing climatic conditions and within the
management systems used, as well as to assess the pathological and economic desirability of frequent
treatment. A field experiment is currently being carried out to investigate this problem in sheep-
husbandry (Bastiaensen P. , non published data).
The aim of this survey was to investigate the incidence of gastro-intestinal nematodes in dairy cattle in
order to get a rough idea of the average infestation-levels and causative nematodes-species in rural dairy
farming practice.

Materials and methods

The survey was carried out within the framework of the artificial insemination service in the district of
Commewijne (eastern Suriname). Therefore, dairy farms using natural servicing only where not included
in the survey, neither where exclusive beef-production farms or farms outside the Commewijne district.
51 non-pregnant cows (lactating or dry) where sampled for dung, this immediately following artificial
insemination of the cow on heat. These 51 cows represent 51% of the cows that were inseminated during
this period of time (n=100) and 15% of the estimated AI-herd in Commewijne since 1991 (n=321). The
samples were collected between July 1994 and April 1995, thus covering all seasonal variations in
temperature and rainfall.
Dung was collected in rectal gloves and labelled with a reference number. Each sample record contained
the following data : sex (all female), age, predominant breed-influence and interval since last
dosing/deworming. The samples thus included dung of cows having been dosed very recently.
Following collection of samples, the dung was being examined for eggs of gastro-intestinal nematodes.
Microscopic egg-counts (eggs per gram or epg) were carried out using the Mac Master method
(Thienpont et al., 1986), followed by quantitative flottation in case of negative Mac Master counts. A
negative Mac Master count and positive flottation would account for less than 50 epg or -for practical
reasons- 25 epg.
The nematode genera involved were partly diagnosed while performing the Mac Master or flottation
technique. The following wormtypes can be readily distinguished by their eggs : order of the Rhabditidae
(Strongyloïdes), order of the Strongylidae (several genera) and the order of the Enoplida (Trichuris).
Soulsby , 1986.
Further distinction between genera of the Strongylida-order was made by larval culture of a dung-
woodshavings mixture, followed by microscopic examination of L3-larvae (Hansen & Perry, 1990). The
following L3-larvae of the Strongylidae can be readily distinguished (anonymous, 1986): Haemonchus,
Trichostrongylus, Coöperia, Bunostomum, Oesophagostomum
and Nematodirus. This larval culture was
performed only with faeces of cows showing egg-counts exceeding 200 epg. Lower epg's usually lead to
insufficient numbers of larvae (at least 100 larvae per sample need to be examined).

A survey on gastro-intestinal neamtodes in dairy cattle in the Commewijne District (Suriname) Results

The results are summarised in the table below. The epg's for each of the Strongylidae (between brackets)
were extrapolated from the overall epg (107 epg) and the percentages of each genera found following
larval differentiation.
__________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
The highest values encountered were 800 epg (strongyles) in two cows only.
13 cows had negative egg counts, while 21 cows had egg counts not exceeding 50 epg (25 or 50 epg).
We found no statistical evidence of age-related or breed-related differences in egg shedding. The
relationship between the interval since last dosing and egg shedding could not be evaluated due to a
disproportionate distribution of the groups.
Haemonchus-spp and Trichostrongylus-spp. are the predominant species. Strongyloïdes, Trichuris,
Coöperia, Bunostomum
and Oesophagostomum were occassionally seen.
Two samples revealed nearly pure Haemonchus-populations (81,25% and 100%), while four samples
showed almost pure Trichostrongylus-populations (85% - 100%). The cows concerned were of different
age and breeding influence and were sampled on different farms.

Results indicate relatively low faecal egg-counts in nearly all sampled cows. Whatever the dominant
breed-influence, age or season, egg counts seldom exceed 200 epg. In some of the cases low egg count is
accounted for by recent deworming, most of the cows however had not been dosed for less than 6 (six)
The only earlier investigation concerning nematodes in cattle in Suriname dates from the early sixties.
H.Kuil (1965) reported on his observations of 4 (four) naturally infected calves. Egg shedding and
causative species were monitored as from birth up to the age of approximately one year. Kuil found that
calves were first infected with Strongyloides papillosus at the age of three to four weeks. After two
months eggs of the Strongylidae were recovered from dung, while epg's remained low. The species
involved were recognized as being Cooperia-spp. After six months, when calves were brought on
pasture, epg's rose to a higher level. Within three to four weeks of natural grazing, epg's varied from 620
epg to 2200 epg. Cooperia -spp., but also Oesophagostomum radiatum and Haemonchus placei were
involved. The importance of Haemonchus increased while Cooperia -eggs gradually disappeared from
dung. Around the age of approximately one year Cooperia -eggs were virtually absent, while
Haemonchus became the dominant species involved. Egg shedding increased to between 1000 epg and
4440 epg. Post mortem analyses at the age of 400 days, confirmed Haemonchus placei -infection in the
abomasum and Oesophagostomum radiatum in the colon (Kuil H., 1965).
A survey on gastro-intestinal neamtodes in dairy cattle in the Commewijne District (Suriname) These figures are not quite in accordance with the results we found in adult dairy cattle. H. Kuil (1965)
reported a very low prevalence of Trichostrongylus. In our trial, most of the cows for which larval
differentiation was undertaken indeed showed a dominant Haemonchus infection (n=6), but quite some
animals showed Trichostrongylus dominance too (n=5). The faecal egg counts found by Kuil are quite
high in comparison to those we found, but this phenomenon is most probably due to the difference in age
and thus the immunological status of the animals in the trial.
Indeed, egg-counts in mature and (presumably) immune animals do not link directly to infection-levels in
rumen, stomach or intestines. Immunity leads to a decrease in the fertility of female nematodes, as well
as a decreased conception and egg-production (Jansen J., 1990). The absence or scarce appearance of
eggs in faeces does not necessarily indicate an absence of larval or adult nematodes in the host. Immunity
itself involves a number of mechanisms by which the host is capable of controlling it's worm-burden up
to a level whereby the pathological effects of nematode-infestation are limited to a minimum. Unless the
host is weakened by disease, pregnancy, malnutrition or other causes of decreased immunity, adult
animals ought to be able to withstand worm-infestations without affecting the health status. Thus, it
would seem that gastro-intestinal parasitism in dairy cattle in this country is a somewhat over-estimated
problem and that endo-parasitism should certainly not soly be held responsible for overall poor
production results. Numerous trials have established that the effects of frequent deworming of adult dairy
cattle seldom exceed a 12% increase in milkproduction (de Rond J.C.G., de Jong R., Boon J.H. en
Brouwer B. , 1990).
On the other hand, one has to observe the necessary caution when extrapolating these results to cattle in
general. AI-farms in Suriname are usually the better equipped and better managed farms and are
therefore not fully representative of cattle husbandry in Commewijne or the rest of Suriname.
The most commonly used anthelmintic drug in Suriname is levamisole, being available as injectable,
pour-on or oral formulations. The species encountered in cattle in this survey, lead us to believe that the
action of levamisole in these animals should not be a problem. Several studies (Guerrero J. et al., 1984)
have found levamisole to have an excellent action against adult and larval stages of all species
encountered in this trial. This is being confirmed by a recent (small) trial involving naturally infected
(dairy) calves in Suriname (Ronoredjo E. et al. , submitted).
In conclusion, it is recommended to encourage the practice of simultaneous and strategic once-a-year
treatment of adult dairy cattle, while an additional treatment two to three weeks prior to calving would be
advantageous to the new born calf. Levamisole is a suitable drug, while febantel (Courtney C.H. et al.,
1988 ; Stuedemann J.A. et al., 1990) and albendazole (De Backere M., 1987) can be used as well.
Further research should be undertaken to establish a suitable strategy for such block-treatments with
regard to the seasonal infestation pattern of the pasture. Preliminary results in sheep lead us to believe
that the onset of the dry season might be a suitable time for such a treatment (P. Bastiaensen ,
unpublished data)

The author wishes to thank the veterinary assistants, mr. Patrick Pinas (animal health assistant) and mr.
Swamipersad Mohan (inseminator) for their help in collecting samples and data. The thorough advices of
Prof. Dr. J. Vercruysse and Dr. P. Dorny (both Faculty of Veterinary Medecine, University of Ghent,
Belgium) were of invaluable help. This trial was carried out within the framework of the Belgo-
Surinamese technical assistance program of the Flemish Organisation for Development Cooperation and
Technical Assistance (VVOB) in Brussels.
A survey on gastro-intestinal neamtodes in dairy cattle in the Commewijne District (Suriname) References
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Soulsby E.J.L. (1986) "Helminths, arthropods and protozoa of domesticated animals. ", 7th ed., Baillière
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Source: http://www.bastiaensen.be/07-Bastiaensen_Suriname_Cattle.pdf


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