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Best Practice Guide to Managing Lungworm and Gut worms in Elk and Wapiti

(updated July 2014)
• Using an effective drench is essential and even more important now that widespread drench resistance is present. Current best practice is to use a combination drench = Cydectin Injection (moxidectin) as well as an oral combination of oxfendazole and levamisole. (Oxfen C Plus and Oxfen C mixed in equal parts and given at a dose rate of 1ml per 5kg).

NB. The oral component of this triple combination (equal parts of Oxfen C Plus and Oxfen C) should be used on a mix and use basis.

NB. This recommended triple combination is off label and currently has a default 91day meat withholding time. We also strongly recommend you stick to the prescribed Oxfen mix procedure and dose rate. Any deviation from the above instruction is at your risk! Levamisole in high doses is toxic and can be fatal to deer. Care must be taken when there is a large variation of liveweight within the mob and requires adjustment in the dose rate to suit.



• Do not use Pour On drenches                                  2023 drench update click on >>


• Quarantine drench all deer coming onto your farm


• Apply principles of “refugia”


• Integrate other livestock species where possible


Background information:-

• Elk and Wapiti appear to be more susceptible to the effects of parasites than red deer. Deer develop immunity to parasites with age and while red deer are normally immune by 12mths, elk and wapiti are much older. Immunity can break down in mature animals when under stress e.g.  bulls in the roar or cows lactating


• Fading Elk Syndrome is caused by GI parasites, in particular Ostertagia-types. The Ostertagia larva develop in the lining of the abomasum (4th stomach) causing damage that changes the pH of the abomasum, limits digestion and allows loss of protein.

Young Wapiti and elk can be affected but it is normally seen in older animals with the onset of signs in autumn and winter
Signs shown in affected deer are ill thrift, wasting, emaciation, often scouring, a characteristic “plonking” gait and are often “vacant/starry eyed”.


• A worm programme aimed at preventing parasites establishing is far better than treating affected deer. Lungworm challenge occurs in the first autumn for fawns and on some farms can be an issue in Jan/Feb. Where challenge is high fawns will need drenched at not more than 28day intervals through autumn. Challenge from GI parasites starts in early autumn and normally increases until June. Treatment into spring is required on some farms and recommended for wapiti and elk.


• Determining the drench resistance status of a property is complex and expensive. Using a combination drench is widely accepted best practice to delay the onset of resistance.


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