To assess the persistence of the activity of topical ivermectin against a natural challenge with biting lice (Bovicola bovis), 90 mixed-breed cattle that had been treated to remove lice, were blocked by bodyweight within sex and randomly allocated to three treatments: untreated control, doramectin at 200 μg/kg by subcutaneous injection, and ivermectin at 500 μg/kg by topical application. Forty-five pens were blocked into three groups of 15, and the blocks of pens were randomly allocated to three 14-day challenge periods starting 21, 28 and 35 days after treatment. There were five pens per treatment for each challenge period, and one B bovis-infested donor calf was introduced into each pen containing two principal calves at the start of the challenge period for that block of pens. The calves were examined thoroughly for B bovis seven, 14 and 21 days after the introduction of the donors. There were no significant differences between the control and doramectin groups for the numbers of animals infested, or the geometric mean louse counts at the final examination for any of the challenge periods. At the final examination for each challenge period, the louse counts of the cattle treated with topical ivermectin were all zero, and significantly (P<0.05) fewer cattle treated with topical ivermectin were infested than either the controls or cattle treated with doramectin.
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