By Professor Neil Sargison – Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, the University of Edinburgh
The health of sheep and goats in India is crucial to the lives of thousands of farmers across the Country.
I have been in India a number of times over the past few years, working with colleagues on advances in this research area.
This month, I presented a lecture to students and parasitologists at the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Madras Veterinary College, describing challenges to parasitic worm control in sheep and goats.
These animals have an important role in converting poor quality herbage into food in India.
Helminth parasites (parasitic worms) are the biggest threat to their production, especially in sub-tropical India.
The principles of helminth control are complex and most farmers around the world depend upon the use of anthelmintic drugs.
The emergence of resistance to such drugs was inevitable as helminth parasites have high rates of reproduction and can evolve quickly in response to favourable opportunities afforded by climate change and unfavourable conditions created by drug treatments.
Pragmatic measures aimed at slowing the emergence and spread of resistance are complex and generally not supported by evidence.
The integration of research with clinical veterinary medicine will help to identify the basis of this resistance.
Thus, state of the art technologies can hopefully be used to allow sustainable production to meet global food security requirements.
The lecture was followed by a lively and constructive discussion.