Characterisation of gastrointestinal helminths and their impact in commercial small-scale chicken flocks in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam.
Van NTB., Cuong NV., Yen NTP., Nhi NTH., Kiet BT., Hoang NV., Hien VB., Thwaites G., Carrique-Mas JJ., Ribas A.
Commercial small-scale chicken farms managed as all-in-all-out but operating with low standards of hygiene/biosecurity are increasingly common in Vietnam. These conditions facilitate the transmission of gastrointestinal helminths. However, there are no published data on helminths in these systems. We aimed (1) to determine the prevalence/burden of gastrointestinal helminths in small-scale commercial flocks in the Mekong Delta region and (2) to investigate the association between worm burdens and birds' weight and disease status. Randomly selected chickens (n = 120) from 'normal' flocks were investigated at the end of their production cycle (~ 18 weeks), as well as 90 chickens from 'diseased' flocks with signs of respiratory and/or severe disease. The gastrointestinal tract of chickens was dissected and all visible helminths were identified and counted. A total of 54.2% and 54.4% normal and diseased chickens contained helminths. Among colonised birds, the diseased ones harboured a higher mass of helminth worms than normal (healthy) birds (3.8 ± SD 8.6 g vs. 1.9 ± SD 6.3 g, respectively). Eight species were identified, including nematodes (Ascaridia galli, Cheilospirura hamulosa and Heterakis gallinarum), cestodes (Hymenolepis, Raillietina cesticillus, Raillietina echinobothrida, Raillietina tetragona,) and one trematode (Echinostomatidae). Heterakis gallinarum was the most prevalent helminth (43.3% and 42.2% in normal and sick chickens, respectively), followed by A. galli (26.7% and 41.1%). Colonised chickens weighed 101.5 g less than non-colonised birds. Colonisation was higher during the rainy months (May-November) for both H. gallinarum and A. galli. Anthelminthic usage was not associated with reduced helminth burdens. We recommend upgrading cleaning and disinfection and limiting access to ranging areas to control helminths in small-scale chicken flocks.