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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

First Report of Resistance to Ivermectin in Parascaris univalens in Iceland

Martin, Frida; Svansson, Vilhjalmur; Eydal, Matthias; Oddsdottir, Charlotta; Ernback, Maja; Persson, Isa; Tyden, Eva


Horses in Iceland have been isolated for more than 1,000 yr but still harbor a similar range of gastrointestinal parasites as do horses across the world. The long isolation of the horses and their parasites presumably means that no resistance genes have been introduced into the Parascaris spp. population. It is therefore of particular interest to investigate the efficacy of ivermectin on Parascaris spp. infecting Icelandic foals. Potential treatment failure of ivermectin in Iceland will add substantial new information on how resistance can arise independently. This study aimed to determine the efficacy of subcutaneous injection of ivermectin for the treatment of Parascaris spp. infection in foals and to identify the Parascaris species present in the west and north of Iceland. A fecal egg count reduction (FECR) test (FECRT) was performed on 50 foals from 8 farms, including an untreated control group of 6 foals, from September to November 2019. The foals were between 3 and 5 mo of age at the start of the study and had not previously been treated with anthelmintic drugs. Each foal was treated subcutaneously with off-label use of Ivomec (R) injection 10 mg/ml or Noromectin (R) 1% at a dose of 0.2 mg/kg. The FECR for each farm was calculated in 2 ways, by the eggCounts package in R and by the Presidente formula (FECRT). Both calculation methods resulted in efficacy levels between 0% and 80.78%, indicating ivermectin resistance on all farms. We also confirmed, by karyotyping, that the species of equine ascarid present in the west and north of Iceland is Parascaris univalens. This study provides evidence for treatment failure of ivermectin against P. univalens infection in foals. Since Icelandic horses have been isolated on the island for more than 1,000 yr, this implies that resistance alleles have developed independently in the Icelandic Parascaris population. The actual clinical impact of ivermectin resistance is unknown but another drug of choice should be considered to treat Parascaris infection in foals in Iceland.


Parascaris; Macrocyclic lactones; Ivermectin; Efficacy; Foals; Iceland; Equine; Fecal egg count reduction test

Published in

Journal of Parasitology
2021, Volume: 107, number: 1, pages: 16-22