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Efficacy of different treatment regimes against setariosis (Setaria tundra, Nematoda: Filarioidea) and associated peritonitis in reindeer

Sauli Laaksonen1*, Antti Oksanen1, Toomas Orro2, Harri Norberg3, Mauri Nieminen3 and Antti Sukura4

Author Affiliations

1 Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, Fish and Wildlife Health Research Unit, PO Box 517, FI-90101 Oulu, Finland

2 Department of Animal Health and Environment, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Kreutzwaldi 62, 51014 Tartu, Estonia

3 Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Reindeer Research Station, Toivoniementie 246, FI-99910 Kaamanen, Finland

4 Department of Basic Veterinary Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FINPAR), University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 66, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland

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Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2008, 50:49  doi:10.1186/1751-0147-50-49

Published: 16 December 2008



When a severe peritonitis outbreak in semi-domesticated reindeer was noticed in 2003 in Finland, the concerned industry urged immediate preventive actions in order to avoid detrimental effects of S. tundra and further economical losses. A research programme was swiftly initiated to study S. tundra and its impact on the health and wellbeing of reindeer.


The ultimate aim of this study was to test the efficacy of different treatment regimes against S. tundra and associated peritonitis in reindeer. The timing of the trials was planned to be compatible with the annual rhythm of the reindeer management; (1) the treatment of calves in midsummer, during routine calf ear marking, with ivermectin injection prophylaxis and deltamethrin pour-on solution as a repellent against insect vectors, (2) the treatment of infected calves in early autumn with ivermectin injection, and (3) ivermectin treatment of breeding reindeer in winter. The results were assessed using the post mortem inspection data and S. tundra detection. Finally, to evaluate on the population level the influence of the annual (late autumn-winter) ivermectin treatment of breeding reindeer on the transmission dynamics of S. tundra, a questionnaire survey was conducted.


In autumn, ivermectin treatment was efficient against peritonitis and in midsummer had a slight negative impact on the degree of peritonitis and positive on the fat layer, but deltamethrin had none. Ivermectin was efficient against adult S. tundra and its smf. All the reindeer herding cooperatives answered the questionnaire and it appeared that antiparasitic treatment of reindeer population was intense during the study period, when 64–90% of the animals were treated. In the southern part of the Finnish reindeer husbandry area, oral administration of ivermectin was commonly used.


Autumn, and to a lesser degree summer, treatment of reindeer calves with injectable ivermectin resulted in decreased severity of peritonitis and perihepatitis in reindeer calves due to setariosis. In the case of necessity for animal welfare reasons, treatment during early autumn round ups should be considered. On the population level, massive and routinely applied antiparasitic treatments can improve the health of breeding reindeer and decrease the mortality and the number of carriers but during the outbreak could not prevent its movement and expansion to the North.