• Rumen fluke in Irish sheep: prevalence, risk factors and molecular identification of two paramphistome species

      Martinez-Ibeas, Ana M; Munita, Maria P; Lawlor, Kim; Sekiya, Mary; Mulcahy, Grace; Sayers, Riona (Biomed Central, 2016-07-18)
      Background Rumen flukes are trematode parasites found globally; in tropical and sub-tropical climates, infection can result in paramphistomosis, which can have a deleterious impact on livestock. In Europe, rumen fluke is not regarded as a clinically significant parasite, recently however, the prevalence of rumen fluke has sharply increased and several outbreaks of clinical paramphistomosis have been reported. Gaining a better understanding of rumen fluke transmission and identification of risk factors is crucial to improve the control of this parasitic disease. In this regard, a national prevalence study of rumen fluke infection and an investigation of associated risk factors were conducted in Irish sheep flocks between November 2014 and January 2015. In addition, a molecular identification of the rumen fluke species present in Ireland was carried out using an isolation method of individual eggs from faecal material coupled with a PCR. After the DNA extraction of 54 individual eggs, the nuclear fragment ITS-2 was amplified and sequenced using the same primers. Results An apparent herd prevalence of 77.3 % was determined. Several risk factors were identified including type of pasture grazed, regional variation, and sharing of the paddocks with other livestock species. A novel relationship between the Suffolk breed and higher FEC was reported for the first time. The predominant rumen fluke species found was C. daubneyi. Nevertheless, P. leydeni was unexpectedly identified infecting sheep in Ireland for the first time. Conclusions An exceptionally high prevalence of rumen fluke among Irish sheep flocks has been highlighted in this study and a more thorough investigation is necessary to analyse its economic impact. The isolation of individual eggs coupled with the PCR technique used here has proven a reliable tool for discrimination of Paramphistomum spp. This technique may facilitate forthcoming studies of the effects of paramphistomosis on livestock production. The most noteworthy finding was the identification of P. leydeni affecting sheep in Ireland, however further studies are required to clarify its implications. Also, a significant relationship between Suffolk breed and a heavier infection was found, which can be used as a starting point for future research on control strategies of rumen fluke infection.