Diagnosis of parasitic infections in sheep and cattle, including investigation of suspected cases of anthelmintic resistance, is carried out in the parasitology section of the Veterinary Sciences Division (VSD) of AFBI, at both the Stormont and Omagh laboratories.
A sheep showing the clinical signs of severe infestation by gastrointestinal parasites. The body condition is poor and there is evidence of scour and faecal soiling around the hindquarters.
As well as providing a diagnostic service to the farming industry, AFBI's parasitology section is engaged in the development of new methods of testing for drug resistance in parasitic infections and also in conducting near-market field trials on new anthelmintics and management–based control strategies.
Much of this research is carried out in collaboration with Queen’s University, Belfast.
The expenditure by Northern Ireland farmers on anthelmintic drugs is a multi-million pound market. Of this, a considerable proportion is wasted by the use of inappropriate drugs to which the parasites have developed resistance.
In addition, the cost of raising a beef or dairy calf to finishing or breeding condition or a lamb to slaughter weight is increased by at least 30% if that animal harbours even a moderate burden of gastrointestinal parasites.
Resistance of nematode parasites and liver fluke in sheep and cattle to the commonly used anthelmintics is an increasing problem and likely to have a significant economic impact on these sectors of the agricultural industry in the UK and Ireland in the near future. Indeed, parasitic disease represents the greatest limiting factor to successful and sustainable ruminant livestock production worldwide, including the UK and Northern Ireland.
For more information on the services available contact:
Prof Bob Hanna,
Veterinary Sciences Division,