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Pooled vs. individual samples

Monitoring parasite burden (FEC) and treatment efficacy (FECR) is a key element of sustainable parasite control. However, the costs of the analysis often discourage their use by farmers and veterinarians. Pooling samples is considered to be a good alternative to reduce time and monetary costs, but limited data is available on the use of pooled samples in small ruminants, especially for goats.

In a study conducted in Italy, data collected over the years from sheep and goat farms were analyzed, and results obtained from individual and pooled analysis were compared. A total of 801 individual and 134 pooled samples (composed of 3–12 individual samples) were included in the analysis.

Results from pooled and individual FEC were not significantly different and results were not influenced by the pool size (<6 or ≥6). Interpretation of treatment efficacy between the two methods was comparable for all sheep trials, while it differed for goats in 4 out of 10 trials.

According to the results of the analysis, pooled FECR can be a good option if the alternative is no testing. When relying on pooled samples for FECR, the researchers strongly encourage the use of multiple pools to improve the accuracy of the test. Also, they suggest further studies on the use of pooled FEC and FECRT for goats.

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