Gastrointestinal parasites in reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) calves from Fennoscandia: An epidemiological study.

Research paper by Pikka P Jokelainen, Barbara B Moroni, Eric E Hoberg, Antti A Oksanen, Sauli S Laaksonen

Indexed on: 30 Aug '19Published on: 28 Apr '19Published in: Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports


Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) host numerous parasites. Although there is a general knowledge about parasite diversity in reindeer, detailed baseline information about parasitic infections is limited. Detailed knowledge of parasite prevalence and diversity provide a pathway for more targeted parasite control, an increasing need expected in the future. The main aim of our cross-sectional study was to estimate the prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in semidomesticated reindeer calves. The 480 reindeer calves included in our study were aged 6-7 months, originated from 9 reindeer herding cooperatives in Finland and 1 in Norway, and were slaughtered during September-November 2015 in 10 reindeer slaughterhouses. All the reindeer calves passed meat inspection, and the detected parasitic infections were subclinical. As the reindeer included in this study were young animals intended for slaughter, they had never been administrated any antiparasitic treatment. Assessments of gastrointestinal parasitism among these reindeer calves were based on fecal examination and morphological identification of coccidian oocysts or helminth eggs. Individual fecal samples collected from the rectum of each of the reindeer were examined using a modified McMaster method. Most (78.3%) of the reindeer calves had eggs or oocysts of at least one parasite species in their feces, and more than half (53.5%) had a mixed infection. Strongylid eggs were detected in 75.6%, Eimeria sp. oocysts in 50.6%, Moniezia sp. eggs in 28.1%, Nematodirus sp. eggs in 22.1%, Capillaria sp. eggs in 9.4%, and Trichuris sp. eggs in 0.6% of the samples. The prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites was similar or higher relative to previous estimates from the region; the proportion of reindeer calves shedding strongylid eggs and the proportion of reindeer calves shedding Moniezia sp. eggs had increased. Prevalence varied by geographical region, which may reflect different herding practices or environmental parameters. Higher reindeer density was a risk factor for testing positive for Eimeria sp. oocysts, and the odds of testing positive for Nematodirus sp. eggs were higher if a peroral route was used for antiparasitic treatment in the reindeer herding cooperative. The mean proportion of reindeer estimated to receive antiparasitic treatment in Finland was 86% in 2004-2005 and 91% in 2014-2015. During the historical time frames of current management practices, this routine annual antiparasitic treatment of breeding reindeer has not decreased the prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in reindeer calves, which can be seen as sentinels or indicators of the infection pressure. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.