Parasitic diseases are ubiquitous and compromise the health, productivity and welfare of farmed animals. Such diseases are currently controlled using chemoprophylactic programmes, but this practice has led to the emergence of resistance to anti-parasite medicines. Anthelmintic resistance (AR) has been reported in UK to all but one of the major classes of anthelmintic and multi-drug resistance is prevalent. AR has been identified by the industry as one of the top disease/syndromes impacting on sheep and cattle in the UK and is seen as the biggest challenge to the future profitability of the sheep farming sector. In this proof-of-concept project, we will focus on sheep production systems in the UK and gastro-intestinal nematode (GIN) infections that cause parasitic gastro-enteritis (PGE).

We will work with farmers, RAMA and vet focus groups across the UK, to identify current practices around helminth control in sheep flocks and to identify impediments to sustainable parasite control. We will address issues around parasite diagnosis prior to treatment and what impedes their use.

We will use high level mathematical agent-based systems model that can be interrogated to address the effectiveness of different control interventions at a farm level whilst including individual animal parasite burdens. For example, by developing rational integrated control strategies based on improved diagnosis or farm management options or targeting treatment at infected animals using a Targeted Strategic Treatment approach.

In partnership with farmers, we will share outputs from the project, build an understanding of what farmers need to improve control of parasites in their animals without relying solely on traditional blanket treatment regimes, and assess the feasibility of implementing possible control options that emerge from the modelling framework.

Contact details:

Dr Diana Williams

Professor Infection Biology & Microbiomes

Liverpool University