Innovative and sustainable strategies to mitigate the impact of global change on helminth infections in ruminants
All grazing animals are exposed to infections with parasitic worms (gastrointestinal nematodes and liver fluke). These infections represent a significant economic and welfare burden to European farmers (ruminant livestock industry). Control of parasitic worms still relies heavily on the use of drugs, but frequent reports of treatment failures are threatening the sustainability and efficiency of (European) livestock production. Furthermore, sharp increases in worm-associated disease frequency and intensity have been reported within the European ruminant sector. Climate change may be one of the drivers behind this trend, however, other changes in the environment (e.g. land use) and in livestock farming, such as intensification and altered management practices, will also have an impact on parasite infections. Sustainable control of worm infections in a changing world requires detailed knowledge of these interactions.
- optimise diagnosis, by developing novel, high-throughput diagnostic tests for mixed helminth infections, sub-clinical infections and anthelmintic resistance,
- map, monitor and predict the impact of global change on parasite epidemiology, leading to spatial risk maps and improved forecasting of disease,
- produce predictive models to identify optimal future intervention strategies,
- identify and mitigate the economic impacts of infections and
- involve end-users in the production and dissemination of detailed advice for effective worm control