A faecal egg count reduction test, using composite samples, was developed in order to assess the efficacy of the flukicide, triclabendazole (TCBZ) on commercial sheep farms in England and Wales. First, a comparison between individual counts and composite counts was conducted using sheep on two farms with different levels of infection. Faecal samples were collected from 50 sheep on each farm at the time of TCBZ treatment and 21 days later. The results showed that a composite fluke egg count (CFEC) was as sensitive as using individual samples, and the test was subsequently validated on an additional 18 sheep farms. The pre- and post-treatment CFECs using five composite samples were subjected to bootstrap analysis. The variance in fluke egg counts of composite samples was high, but analyses indicated that 20 individual samples analysed as two composites was as sensitive as using five composites. The two-composite assay was evaluated on another five farms. On seven out of 25 farms sampled, egg counts either did not decrease significantly or increased following treatment, suggesting TCBZ resistance on these farms. This assay represents a practical field test that can be used in the first instance to evaluate the efficacy of TCBZ on sheep farms where resistance is suspected.
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