The high prevalence of resistance of Haemonchus contortus to all major anthelmintic groups has prompted investigations into alternative control methods in South Africa, including the use of copper oxide wire particle (COWP) boluses. To assess the efficacy of COWP against H. contortus in indigenous South African goats, 18 male faecal egg-count-negative goats were each given ca.1200 infective larvae of H. contortus three times per week during weeks 1 and 2 of the experiment. These animals made up an “established” infection group (ESTGRP). At the start of week 7, six goats were each given a 2-g COWP bolus orally; six goats received a 4-g COWP bolus each and six animals were not treated. A further 20 goats constituted a “developing” infection group (DEVGRP). At the beginning of week 1, seven of the DEVGRP goats were given a 2-g COWP bolus each; seven goats were treated with a 4-g COWP bolus each and no bolus was given to a further six animals. During weeks 1–6, each of these DEVGRP goats was given ca. 400 H. contortus larvae three times per week. All 38 goats were euthanized for worm recovery from the abomasa and small intestines in week 11. In the ESTGRP, the 2-g and 4-g COWP boluses reduced the worm burdens by 95% and 93%, respectively compared to controls (mean burden ± standard deviation, SD: 23 ± 33, 30 ± 56 and 442 ± 518 worms, P = 0.02). However, in the DEVGRP goats, both the 2-g and 4-g COWP treatments were ineffective in reducing the worm burdens relative to the controls (mean burdens ± SD: 1102 ± 841, 649 ± 855, 1051 ± 661 worms, P = 0.16). Mean liver copper levels did not differ between the ESTGRP goats treated with 2-g COWP, 4-g COWP or no COWP (mean ± standard error of the mean, SEM, in ppm: 93.7 ± 8.3; 101.5 ± 8.3; 71.8 ± 8.3, P = 0.07) nor did they differ between the DEVGRP goats (mean ± SEM, in ppm: 74.1 ± 9.1; 75.4 ± 9.1; 74.9 ± 10.0, P > 0.99). The copper values were considered adequate, but not high, for goats. The COWP boluses have the potential to be used in the place of conventional anthelmintics for the control of established H. contortus infections in indigenous South African goats, but their use as part of an integrated approach to control H. contortus in the field must be fully investigated
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