Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New test may help address costly parasite in sheep industry

Date:
January 11, 2010
Source:
University of Georgia
Summary:
Researchers have developed an improved, more efficient method to test for the most serious of the parasitic worms in sheep, a problem that causes hundreds of millions of dollars in losses every year to the global sheep and wool industry.

This parasitic worm that infects sheep, Haemonchus contortus, is seen along with its eggs, made easily visible with a new test developed by researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Georgia.
Credit: Copyright 2009 University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine

Researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Georgia have developed an improved, more efficient method to test for the most serious of the parasitic worms in sheep, a problem that causes hundreds of millions of dollars in losses every year to the global sheep and wool industry.

This technology is now available, and will allow a faster, easier and less expensive way to test for the presence and quantity of Haemonchus contortus, or "barber pole" worms, a species that is very pathogenic to sheep, goats and llamas. This will help sheep ranchers deal with this problem more quickly and effectively, optimize their management practices, and sometimes avoid costly therapies.

Findings about the new test were just published in Veterinary Parasitology, a professional journal.

"This particular parasite is much more pathogenic in sheep than other worms, and previous methods to detect it were very labor intensive and often not commercially practical," said Michael Kent, an OSU professor of microbiology. "Now ranchers and veterinarians can test for this problem and target their management or treatment strategies much more effectively."

This parasite causes significant production losses, and in some cases it's the limiting factor to sheep production on pasture lands. The nematodes can cause internal bleeding, which in turn can lead to anemia, poor food conversion and growth, low protein levels, reduced lamb production and wool yield, and in some cases death.

Known as the barber pole or wire worm, Haemonchus contortus is a blood-sucking parasite that pierces the lining of the sheep's stomach. It's a prolific egg producer, releasing up to 10,000 eggs per day, and often causes problems in warmer climates or during the summer. Once an infection is demonstrated, expensive treatments or complex management strategies are often needed to address it.

The new lectin staining test is based on a peanut agglutinin that binds to eggs of the parasite and can be easily visualized with a microscope using ultraviolet light. It's an improved version of previous technology developed by scientists in Australia that was slower, less effective, more expensive and required more advanced training to perform, researchers say.

The relatively inexpensive test was developed by microbiologists and veterinary doctors at OSU and UGA, and is now available through those institutions. Its use should continue to expand and become more readily available around the world, Kent said.

The test may also be of special value to ranchers interested in organic production of sheep, goats and llamas, who try to avoid use of chemical treatments in maintaining the health of their animals.

"One of the current testing tools commonly used by sheep and goat farmers in dealing with H. contortus is the FAMACHA method, in which the farmer compares the animal's lower eyelid color to swatches on a card to determine the animal's anemia status," said Bob Storey, a UGA researcher who co-developed the lectin staining test. "This method only works in situations where H. contortus is the primary parasite in a given herd's worm population. The new lectin staining test allows for a faster and less expensive method of determining the predominance of H. contortus in a herd worm population, thereby making it easier for producers to determine if FAMACHA can be a useful tool for them. Additionally, for the veterinarian dealing with an anemic animal and a heavy parasite burden, the lectin staining test provides quick feedback as to whether the anemia is parasite-based or may be due to another cause."

The test requires only a small amount of feces, and results are available in as little as two days. Anyone interested in obtaining the test can get information on sampling, test results and fees from the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at OSU (http://oregonstate.edu/vetmed/diagnostic or 541/752-5501), or Bob Storey (Dept. of Infectious Diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., 30602 or 706/542-0195). FAMACHA information can be obtained through Bob Storey or by sending an email to famacha@uga.edu.

As with any animal health concerns, results should be reviewed with a veterinarian so that proper treatment programs can be put in place, researchers said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Georgia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Georgia. "New test may help address costly parasite in sheep industry." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100109002314.htm>.
University of Georgia. (2010, January 11). New test may help address costly parasite in sheep industry. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100109002314.htm
University of Georgia. "New test may help address costly parasite in sheep industry." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100109002314.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Rare Lion Cubs Make Debut at Belgrade Zoo

Raw: Rare Lion Cubs Make Debut at Belgrade Zoo

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) Two white lion cubs were born in Belgrade zoo three weeks ago. White lions are a rare mutation of a species found in South Africa and some cultures consider them divine. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sweet Times for Hard Cider Makers

Sweet Times for Hard Cider Makers

AP (Oct. 16, 2014) With hard cider making a hardcore comeback across the country, craft makers are trying to keep up with demand and apple growers are tapping a juicy new revenue stream. (Oct. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Meet Garfi the Angry Cat

Meet Garfi the Angry Cat

Buzz60 (Oct. 16, 2014) Garfi is one frowny, feisty feline - downright angry! Ko Im (@koimtv) introduces us to the latest animal celebrity taking over the Internet. You can follow more of Garfi's adventures on Twitter (@MeetGarfi) and Facebook (Garfi). Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins