A new DNA test for sheep roundworms that identifies drench-resistant strains within three days is being rolled out across Australia.
The new test, developed by University of Melbourne researches and AusDiagnostics, more than halves the seven-day turnaround time of the conventional larval culture technique and has improved sensitivity and accuracy.
The test enables the specific diagnosis of barber’s pole worm, brown stomach worm, black scour worms, small intestinal worms, large-mouthed bowel worm, nodule worms and large bowel worms.
It is still used in conjunction with a normal worm egg count, but allows the diagnosis of a wide range of roundworm parasites with high precision within two to three days.
The new test is being rolled out by AusDiagnostics and has been installed at Veterinary Health Research (VHR) in Armidale, NSW (VHR in collaboration with Merial Australia) and Gribbles Veterinary in Clayton, Victoria.
VHR production animal veterinarian Rad Nielsen said at VHR said the DNA test is “the way of the future in terms of diagnosing internal parasite infections in livestock”.
By providing graziers with a complete and timely assessment of worm burdens they will now be able to respond to the results within a few days of sample collection.”
MERIAL Australia is supporting the new DNA test across Australia and MERIAL E-DNA test kits (for use at the VHR laboratory) are now available for sheep graziers in leading rural resellers.
A similar test for the most important roundworms of cattle has already been developed by AusDiagnostics. The cattle test is currently being trialled and will become available to livestock producers in Australia and Europe towards the end of 2014.
Gribbles veterinary manager Rick McCoy said with the reduction of availability of parasite testing, especially the laboratory skills to identify roundworm species from larval culture in Victoria, his company sees this assay as a viable alternative to traditional parasite testing methods.
“The assay is also suitable for pre- and post-drenching studies, identifying development of drench resistant strains, thus indicating a need to modify treatment strategies,” he said.
By providing a more accurate measure of the proportions of roundworms, the new DNA test will enable a more accurate assessment of the level of drench resistance for each of the major roundworm species. Knowing the drench resistance status is a key component of WormBoss regional control programs.