Seasonal Parasite Carriage Of Village Chicken In Mbeere Subcounty, Antiparasitic Treatments Used And Effectiveness Of Selected Anthelmintics
Endo- and ecto- parasites are common among village chicken; as they scavenge and forage for food they tend to pick up infective stages of the parasites. These parasites are a major cause of stress to birds where they compete for nutrients, some suck blood causing anaemia, interfere with feed consumption, while others cause anorexia or death. High parasite burden leads to severe parasitism. Poultry is the most kept livestock and almost every household in villages has about 5-20 indigenous chicken reared under free range management system. Compared to commercially kept exotic breeds, production of these indigenous chicken is poor; one of the reasons for poor performance being stress. It is, therefore, important to control these parasites so as to improve the birds’ productivity; this will translate to improved financial status of the poultry keepers. In order to be able to come up with control strategies for these parasites, it was found important to establish the current parasite situation, even though two other researchers have worked on this aspect in Mbeere chicken before (between years 2005 and 2009) - one worked on ecto- and haemo-parasites only while the other worked on endoparasites; theirs was also a one-time study. The current study covered all the three parasite groups and also established their prevalences in wet and dry seasons. It also assessed the effectiveness of selected anthelmintics against endoparasites and documented information on knowledge of chicken parasites and local treatments used in the area, through use of questionnaires. The questionnaires were administered to 17 farmers in the study area. The main constraints were found to be: diseases (88%) and parasites (70.6%). Ectoparasites commonly encountered were ticks and fleas, at prevalence rate of 47.06% each; and mites and lice at 17.65% each. Endoparasites occurred at a rate of 29.1%. Majority (71%) of the farmers treated against endoparasites, using mainly piperazine citrate (35.3%). Others (82.4%) controlled ectoparasites using cabaryl (53%), cooking oil (11.6%), ectomin (11.6%), while 23.5% did not know the type of treatment they had given. Sixty five percent (65%) of the respondents used herbal medicine to control endoparasites such as Aloe species (29.4%), pepper (17.7%), ‘’mikau’’ (11.7%) and‘’githongu’’ (Solanum incanum) (11.7%). Other treatments used were, milk (5.88%), improved hygiene (11.76%), used engine oil (5.88%) and liquid paraffin (38.29%). A total of 48 chicken were randomly selected and purchased from farms in the study area (24 in wet season and 24 in dry season). The chickens were of different ages (16 chicks, 16 growers and 16 adults) and sexes (19 males and 29 females). Post-mortem examination, worm counts and identification were done; two thin blood smears were made from each bird, for haemoparasites examination. All chicken in the 2 seasons had endoparasites, while ecto-parasites were found in all chicken in wet season and 95.8% of the chicken in dry season. In both wet and dry seasons the prevalences were: nematodes 95.8% and 87.5%, cestodes 87.5% and 83.3%, coccidia 20.8% and 0% and haemoparasites 79.2% and 62.5%, respectively. Heterakis species were the most prevalent nematodes (wet season 95.8%; dry season 87.5%). Other isolated nematodes were Tetrameres americana and Gongylonema ingluvicola. Raillietina echinobothrida was the most prevalent cestode (wet season 79.2%; dry season 54.2%). Other cestodes were; Raillietina tetragona, Davaenea proglottina, Hymenolepis cantaniana and Choanotaenia infundibulum. Among the recovered haemoparasites, Plasmodium gallinaceum was the most common (wet season 79.2%; dry season 62.5%). Ectoparasites observed in both seasons were mites, lice, ticks and fleas. Lice were the most prevalent (wet season 100%; dry season 70.4%). The difference in xix occurrence of lice was statistically significant between the two seasons, among the age groups and between the sexes (p<0.05). The effectiveness of piperazine citrate, albendazole and levamisole hydrochloride (HCL) was tested at the University of Nairobi, using 37 adult chicken purchased from individual farmers in the study area. Before the start of the experiment, post-mortem examination was done on 7 birds to determine the type of endoparasites the birds were carrying. This is the first study to be done in chicken, in Kenya. The birds were transported to the University and after 3 days of stabilization, separated into 4 groups. Chicken in groups 1, 2, and 3 were treated with piperazine citrate, levamisole HCL and albendazole, respectively, while group 4 chicken served as untreated controls. Albendazole at 20 mg/kg was administered orally as a single dose, while piperazine citrate and levamisole HCL were given for 24 hours in drinking water at dosages of 3 mg/kg and 25 mg/kg, respectively. Post -mortem examination for parasites was done 7 days post- treatment. Throughout the experimental period, each chicken was kept separately in cages where faecal samples were collected 3 times per day; morning (8pm), noon (12pm) and evening (5pm) and screened for parasite eggs. Albendazole was 100% effective against caecal worms (Heterakis species, Subulura brumpti) Tetrameres americana, Raillietina tetragona and Raillietina echinobothrida. Levamisole HCL was 100% effective against the caecal worms but had little effect on Raillietina echinobothrida (25.6%), R. tetragona (17.6%) and Tetrameres americana 62.8%. Piperazine citrate was effective against ascarids (which were found only in one bird) but had no effect on other worms. In this study, done in Mbeere, heavy ecto- and endo-parasite carriage was demonstrated in chicken during both dry and wet seasons. Control of these parasites is recommended and use of albendazole would ensure total control of the worms.