Emerging parasitic diseases of sheep
There have been changes in the emergence and inability to control of a number of sheep parasitic infections over the last decade. This review focuses on the more globally important sheep parasites, whose reported changes in epidemiology, occurrence or failure to control are becoming increasingly evident. One of the main perceived driving forces is climate change, which can have profound effects on parasite epidemiology, especially for those parasitic diseases where weather has a direct effect on the development of free-living stages. The emergence of anthelmintic-resistant strains of parasitic nematodes and the increasing reliance placed on anthelmintics for their control, can exert profound changes on the epidemiology of those nematodes causing parasitic gastroenteritis. As a consequence, the effectiveness of existing control strategies presents a major threat to sheep production in many areas around the world. The incidence of the liver fluke, Fasciola hepatica, is inextricably linked to high rainfall and is particularly prevalent in high rainfall years. Over the last few decades, there have also been increasing reports of other fluke associated diseases, such as dicroceliosis and paramphistomosis, in a number of western European countries, possibly introduced through animal movements, and able to establish with changing climates. External parasite infections, such as myiasis, can cause significant economic loss and presents as a major welfare problem. The range of elevated temperatures predicted by current climate change scenarios, result in an elongated blowfly season with earlier spring emergence and a higher cumulative incidence of fly strike. Additionally, legislative decisions leading to enforced changes in pesticide usage and choices have resulted in increased reports and spread of ectoparasitic infections, particularly mite, lice and tick infestations in sheep. Factors, such as dip disposal and associated environmental concerns, and, perhaps more importantly, product availability have led to a move away from more traditional methods of pesticide application, particularly dipping, to the use of injectable endectocides. This has coincided with increased reports of sheep scab and lice infestations in some countries. Reduction in the use of organophosphate dips appears to have to some extent contributed to reported increased populations of ticks and tick activity, a consequence of which is not only of significance to sheep, but also many other hosts, including increased human zoonotic risks.