• Liver fluke in Irish sheep: prevalence and associations with management practices and co-infection with rumen fluke.

      Munita, Maria Pia; Rea, Rosemary; Martinez-Ibeas, Ana Maria; Byrne, Noel; McGrath, Guy; Munita-Corbalan, Luis Enrique; Sekiya, Mary; Mulcahy, Grace; Sayers, Riona; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Biomed Central, 2019-11-06)
      Background The present study aimed to identify the national prevalence of Fasciola hepatica in Irish sheep and to conduct a risk analysis assessment based on management and treatment practices in participating flocks. Also, co-infection with rumen fluke was quantified and its association with liver fluke and management practices was assessed. Methods A total of 305 sheep flocks were selected ensuring even national representation of the sheep population. Participating farms were asked to complete a survey questionnaire on farm management practices and submit faecal samples during the winter of 2014–2015. Pooled faecal samples were analysed for the presence of F. hepatica and co-infection with rumen fluke. Apparent and true prevalence were calculated, additionally, the rate of co-infection with rumen fluke was also obtained. Correlation and regression analyses were used for assessing associations between management practices, liver fluke infection and co-infection with rumen fluke. Results The national true prevalence of F. hepatica was 50.4% (n = 305). Regional prevalence varied from 41% in the east to 52% in the south. Co-infection with rumen fluke was observed in 40% of the studied population and correlated with increased F. hepatica egg counts (OR = 2.9; P ≤ 0.001). Predominant breeds were Suffolk, Texel and Horned Mountain breeds. Beef cattle were the most frequent type of other livestock present on farms and mixed species grazing was frequently reported (73%). More than half of the flocks reported a mid-to-late lambing period (March-April). Use of mountain land for grazing was of 32%. Flukicides were most commonly used twice over the autumn-winter period. Regression analyses highlighted significant association of F. hepatica status, with the presence of other livestock on farm, frequency of flukicides used during the winter and clinical presentation of liver fluke. A significant increase in eggs per gram of faeces was observed in Charollais sheep in comparison with all other breeds. Co-infection with F. hepatica and Calicophoron daubneyi was also significantly associated with the presence of other livestock on the farm, type of flukicide used and clinical fasciolosis. Conclusions The present study provides up-to-date information on the prevalence of F. hepatica in Irish sheep and adds insight to the epidemiology of the disease. These findings will be useful for designing new holistic control measures for F. hepatica infection.
    • Prevalence of BoHV-1 seropositive and BVD virus positive bulls on Irish dairy farms and associations between bull purchase and herd status

      Martinez-Ibeas, Ana M; Power, C.; McClure, Jennifer; Sayers, Riona (Biomed Central, 2015-12-09)
      Background BVD and IBR are contagious viral diseases highly prevalent in Irish cattle. Despite their significant reproductive and economic impact very little is known about the BVD and IBR status of stock bulls (a bull used for breeding purposes). There are still a high proportion of dairy farms in Ireland that rely on the use of a bull for breeding cattle and ensuring the fertility of the bulls is of paramount importance for the efficiency of the farms. The prevalence of BoHV-1 and BVD in stock bulls in Irish dairy herds has never been investigated. The objectives of this study therefore were: (i) to provide descriptive, observational data on the use of stock bulls on Irish dairy farms; (ii) to investigate the BVD and BoHV1 status of a sub-set of stock bulls; (iii) to investigate factors associated with BVD and BoHV1 status of stock bulls and (iv) to investigate factors associated with dairy herd status for BVD and BoHV1, including any associations with the use of stock bull. A total of 529 blood samples from bulls involved in the dairy breeding process were analysed for BVD virus using RT-PCR, and BoHV-1 antibodies by ELISA test. A total of 305 different dairy herds took part in the study and the overall BVD and BoHV-1 herd status was determined by ELISA using four bulk tank milk samples over the 2009 lactation. Logistic regression was used to investigate the associations between the stock bulls and BVD and BoHV-1 herd and individual status. Results Of the 305 total participating farms, 235 farms (77 %) had at least one bull and 167 farms had purchased bulls. Two bulls (0.4 %) out of 529 tested were found positive for BVD virus and 87 (16.7 %) tested seropositive for BoHV-1. Some significant associations were identified between the purchase of bulls and both viral diseases. Purchased bulls were three times more likely to be seropositive for BoHV-1 than homebred bulls. In the same way, herds with purchased bulls were three times more likely to be classified as seropositive for BVD and four times more likely to have evidence of recent BoHV-1 circulation than farms where all the bulls were homebred. Conclusions The prevalence of BoHV-1 and BVD in stock bulls in Irish dairy herds has never been investigated. This study highlights the widespread use of stock bulls in Irish dairy herds, as well as the high rate of exchange of bulls between farms. Significant associations were found between the origin of the bull and their serological BoHV-1 status. In keeping with these results, bulls with higher number movements between farms were more likely to be seropositive for BoHV-1.
    • 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.