Oct 04

Job advert: Soay Sheep Project x2


Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/arje/ CC-BY 2.0

2 Positions available at the Moredun Research Institute, working on the Soay sheep project (http://soaysheep.biology.ed.ac.uk/) on a new NERC funded project, with a great collaborative team.

RA/Lab manager: https://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/BNA771/research-assistant-lab-manager (Deadline 17th October)

Postdoc: https://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/BNC020/post-doctoral-research-associate (Deadline 29th October)

Sep 06

Climate change increasing the prevalence of harmful parasite, warn scientists

A rise in a parasite called liver fluke, which can significantly impact livestock production in farms in the UK and across the world, could now be helped by a new predictive model of the disease aimed at farmers. The tool, developed by University of Bristol scientists, aims to help reduce prevalence of the disease.

Cattle or sheep grazing on pastures where the parasite is present can become infected with liver fluke, which develops in the liver of infected animals, leading to a disease called fascioliasis. Current estimates suggest liver fluke contributes to around £300 million annually in lost productivity across UK farms and $3 billion globally.

Until now, risk predictions have been based on rainfall estimates and temperature, without considering the life-cycle of the parasite and how it is controlled by levels of soil moisture.   This, combined with shifts in disease timing and distribution attributed to climate change, has made liver fluke control increasingly challenging.

A new tool for farmers has now been developed by the Bristol team to help them mitigate the risk to their livestock. The model, which works by explicitly linking liver fluke prevalence with key environmental drivers, especially soil moisture, will help farmers decide whether they avoid grazing livestock on certain pastures where liver fluke is more prevalent, or treat animals based on when risk of infection will be at its peak. Importantly, the model can be used to assess the impact of potential future climate conditions on infection levels and guide interventions to reduce future disease risk.

Ludovica Beltrame, one of the study’s researchers from Bristol’s School of Civil, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, said: “In recent decades, the prevalence of liver fluke has increased from 48 to 72 per cent in UK dairy herds. This new tool will help farmers in managing the risk associated with liver fluke and offers a more robust approach to modelling future climate change impacts.”

Professor Thorsten Wagener from Bristol’s Cabot Institute added: “Water-related diseases can be difficult to eradicate using medicine alone, as resistance to available drugs is increasing. We need predictive models of disease risk that quantify how strongly infection risk is controlled by our rapidly changing environment to develop alternative intervention strategies.”

The five-year study comprising engineering, biology and medical researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Queen’s UniversityLiverpool and Scotland Rural Collegewas funded by the EPSRC, the Royal Society, and Bristol’s Cabot and Elizabeth Blackwell Institutes.


A mechanistic hydro-epidemiological model of liver fluke risk’ by L Beltrame et al is published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Original press release issued: 29 August 2018: http://bristol.ac.uk/news/2018/august/liverfluke.html 

Sep 06

LIVER FLUKE 2018: A Sustainable Control Of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) and Control OF (cattle) Worms Sustainably (COWS) joint statement

Sheep and cattle farmers warned dry summer may not have killed off liver fluke
The Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) and Control of Cattle Parasites Sustainably (COWS) groups are urging sheep and cattle farmers to not be complacent about liver fluke this autumn. It would be wrong for producers, the groups say, to assume the dry summer has killed all the liver fluke parasite and the mud snails that are part of its complex life cycle.

Speaking on behalf of SCOPS, sheep consultant Lesley Stubbings says: 
“This summer has been the hottest and driest on record in many parts of the UK. This means that, overall, the burden of liver fluke on pasture will be much lower than last season – but it is dangerous to assume this applies to all farms or even in all areas on a farm.

“Early diagnostic reports from labs and abattoir feedback in some areas suggest we must be careful. In a dry year, the infective stages of liver fluke will be concentrated around permanently wet patches, such as drinking points where there is moisture for snails, which of course is where animals congregate too.”

Experts from SCOPS and COWS say, in a dry year, it is even more important that each farm does its own liver fluke risk assessment and carries out monitoring and testing to avoid getting caught out. There will be huge variation between regions and farms. Tools available include specific blood tests, copro (dung) antigen tests and faecal egg detection tests. Both the SCOPS and COWS websites have details on when it is best to use these tests, and vets can advise on how to use them most effectively.

A spokesperson for COWS says: 
“Taking action now and using these tools will avoid losses due to fluke in high risk situations. Remember, on many farms where animals would normally be routinely treated, testing could help to avoid unnecessary treatments of animals that do not harbour liver fluke. This saves money and time and helps us protect the few medicines we have available to combat this parasite.”

Watch out for regular updates from SCOPS and COWS as the autumn and winter progresses – and find more at 
www.scops.org.uk and www.cattleparasites.org.uk.
www.scops.org.uk                    www.cattleparasites.org.uk

Aug 14

Job advert: Research Fellow, Queen’s University Belfast

The following vacancy is currently being advertised at Queen’s University Belfast. For for more information please click here

Job title: Research Fellow

The Research Fellow will be an innovative, highly productive, ambitious and collaborative member of a new research group led by Professor Eric Morgan in the School of Biological Sciences. The position will involve working as part of a research programme that is investigating the epidemiology of parasite infections in animals under climate change.
The purpose of the project is primarily to adapt, develop further and validate existing epidemiological simulation models to consider the impact of targeted selective treatment (TST) of gastrointestinal nematodes in cattle, on both parasite population dynamics and herd performance. These models will be used to inform TST trials on selected farms in Northern Ireland, to provide proof of principle and underpin wider uptake. A parallel work programme will refine empirical understanding of climatic drivers of infective nematode larval availability and distribution, to feed into model structure and parameter estimation. Simulations using the model will assess the sustainability of TST approaches under climate and farm management change. Outputs will be high quality peer reviewed publications, strategic recommendations to the UK cattle farming industry and a toolkit for computer simulation of parasites on cattle farms.
The successful Research Fellow will lead this ambitious cutting edge research project and will be involved in supervision, planning, day-to-day lab management, collaborations (including with project partners at Newcastle University) and outreach. This is a 30-month post funded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, ending on 31 April 2021.


Aug 10

BAVP winter meeting, Cambridge, 10 – 11th December 2018

We are pleased to announce this year’s BAVP winter meeting will be held on the 10th – 11th December at the University of Cambridge.

The main meeting themes will be Climate Change (10th December),  which will include a talk from Plenary speaker Dr Cyril Caminade from the University of Liverpool, and General Parasitology (11th December),

If you are interested in learning more please see our event poster for more information on registration fees, abstract submissions etc.

If you are interested in attending as either a delegate or as a presenter you can download a registration form by clicking here. Please complete this and return as instructed on the form.

Image courtesy of University of Cambridge’s Faculty of History


Apr 08

SCOPS press release: New research shows sheep farmers can save money at lambing time and safeguard the future of their flocks

20th March 2018

Brecknock Welsh Mountain HRose

Anthelmintic treatment of ewes around lambing time, often with long-acting products, has become common practice on UK sheep farms. However, new independent UK research carried out over three years by the Animal Plant and Health Agency (AHPA) and funded by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has found no advantage in blanket worming ewes at lambing.

Faecal egg counts from lambs reared on ewes that were wormed with either a short-acting or long-acting wormer were not lower than faecal egg counts taken from lambs reared on ewes not treated with a wormer. The study supports data generated by other researchers suggesting the practice of treating ewes at lambing to reduce contamination on pasture and minimise subsequent disease may not always result in lower levels of infection in lambs.

Jane Learmount, lead research on the project, says: “Over-use of anthelmintics is a major factor in the development of resistance,and treating adult sheep unnecessarily only adds to the problem. We had the opportunity to see if this widely adopted practice of worming ewes at lambing really was beneficial to the lambs by analysing our data from our long-term project involving 16 commercial farms. The bottom line is that we could not demonstrate any clear benefit in terms of worm infection levels in lambs as a result of worming ewes on the farms studied.”

This research provides further support for the Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) recommendation to use a targeted approach to the administration of wormers on sheep farms, including leaving the fittest ewes untreated around lambing.

Peter Baber, sheep farmer and SCOPS Steering Group Chairman, says: “With sheep farmers increasingly aware that worm control is no longer as simple as regularly using a wormer (anthelmintic), this is an important finding. If you haven’t had resistance to one or more groups detected on your farm, chances are you know somebody who has and who is struggling with the consequences. These days, maintaining control of worms is all about striking a balance that minimises the risk that the worms will become resistant on your farm.”

Lesley Stubbings of SCOPS says: “SCOPS has been working with a number of farms for several years and they are not seeing any downside to worming only a small proportion of their ewes. This research finding is a massive step forward. We have been advising farmers to leave 10-20% of their ewes untreated, but now with the support of the findings of this large project, we can confidently tell farmers that they only need to treat that proportion of the flock that is below ideal condition or immature shearlings or ewe lambs.”

One of the farmers involved in this work is Gareth Owen of Abbey Farm, Leicester. He says: “We have monitored ewe egg output in the run up to lambing for several years and have convinced ourselves that the majority of our ewes do not shed many eggs. Consequently, only our shearlings and the few leaner ewes are treated at lambing. I must be able to control worms in the long term and am not prepared to risk accelerating the development of resistance on the farm by administering indiscriminate ewe treatments simply because that’s what we always used to do. The fact it also saves us a lot of money is an extra bonus.”

The message from SCOPS is, before you fall into spending money on wormer for your ewes this year, stop and think about how you can save money and at the same time protect the future of your flock from anthelmintic resistance. Be selective, only treating those ewes that need it, and help preserve your wormers for the future.

*Learmount et al. 2018. An observational study of ewe treatments at lambing on early infection in lambs on UK sheep farms. Veterinary Parasitology. 253, 55-59.

Apr 08

BAVP annual meeting, Aberystwyth 10-11 April 2018

We are relaunching the BAVP at the joint BAVP/BSP meeting in Aberystwyth on the 10th-11th April.  The Association has been dormant for a few years and we would like to encourage all members, old and new, to take part in our AGM, elections and logo design competition to get the new BAVP off to a good start.

The AGM will be held during the BAVP annual meeting, 10-11th April. Provisionally, this will be 5.45pm on the 10th of April, immediately following the final speaker of the day in the BAVP session.

A timetable for the meeting can be found here: click here for summarised timetable

A more detailed timetable showing speakers for the BAVP sessions (Stream 5) can be found here: click for detailed timetable


Please email hannah.rose<at>bristol.ac.uk (replace the <at> with @) to put yourself forward for Executive Committee membership in any of the following roles:

– President

– Vice-President

– Secretary-Treasurer

– Communications Officer

– Early Career members’ representative

If you would like further information on any of the roles please get in touch. All members are very welcome.


BAVP logo competition:

Please submit your logo ideas to hannah.rose<at>bristol.ac.uk. Logos must look good in both black & white and colour (if there is colour in the logo), and be legible at a range of sizes.


Final call for registration:

Registration for the meeting will close on the 7th of April. The BAVP sessions will run on the 10th and 11th of April and there is an option to register for these sessions only for a reduced price. http://bsp.uk.net/2016/04/01/bsp-spring-meeting-2018/

May 05

BAVP annual meeting 2016

Eric phone Apr16 869Eric phone Apr16 873It was fantastic to see so many old and new faces at the 2016 BAVP annual meeting which was held at the University of Bristol on the 14-15 April in the Wills Memorial Building and Museum & Art Gallery. Attendees represented the breadth of parasitologists in the UK including Universities, animal health companies, SMEs and the APHA.

The prize of £50 for best student presentation was awarded by majority decision of the committee to Johnathan Love of Strathclyde University for his talk on “Probability distributions of faecal egg count data and their impact on investigating anthelmintic efficacy”. Johnathan was congratulated, as were the other student presenters, Marisol Collins, Ludovica Beltrame and Catherine McLeonard, for their excellent presentations.

A copy of the programme and abstracts can be downloaded here (pdf).

Thank you very much to BAVP President, Eric Morgan, for hosting a successful meeting.



Apr 08

Online forecast map warns sheep farmers about risk of nematodirosis in lambs

Example Nematodirus forecast map

Example Nematodirus forecast map

With spring fast approaching the parasite Nematodirus is a deadly threat to the lives of lambing flocks.  An online risk forecast could help UK sheep farmers assess the risk of outbreaks of the parasite in their lambs and take action before it is too late.  The forecast maps will be updated daily to track changes in risk throughout the spring and early summer and include treatment and management advice.

The online risk forecast has been developed by SCOPS (Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep) and researchers at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences* to predict when Nematodirus eggs will hatch and when outbreaks are likely to happen.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Nematodirus battus hatched - Jan van DijkNematodirosis, caused by the gutworm Nematodirus battus, is a deadly disease affecting young lambs. Eggs deposited on pasture by lambs the previous year hatch together in spring, triggered by a period of chilling over winter followed by warmer weather. Young lambs take in large numbers of larvae as they graze, which damage their gut leading to foetid black diarrhoea (black scour) and death.

Predicting when outbreaks might happen is becoming increasingly difficult due to variation in spring temperatures from year to year. Farmers can no longer rely on a standard timetable of treatments to avoid disease. As the damage is done by the larvae, faecal egg counts are of little use in detecting and controlling Nematodirus in young lambs.

The forecast takes advantage of the temperature-driven synchronised hatching of the Nematodirus larvae and uses weather data from 140 weather stations provided by the Met Office and Forecast.io. The interactive Google map allows farmers and advisers to select the nearest or most representative weather station and provides advice on how to relate the predicted risk to their particular farm and treatment options.

Cases of ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­nematodirosis and eggs detected in routine faecal worm egg counts will also be mapped anonymously as they arise to improve the forecasts and SCOPS are asking farmers, advisors and diagnostic labs to contribute to these records by emailing researcher Dr Hannah Rose at the University of Bristol’s Vet School.

Dr Rose said: “In previous years 64 per cent of farmers and advisors surveyed changed the timing or extent of treatment – or advised treatment – after consulting the forecast, which has been running since 2013, and 93 per cent felt that their approach to control of this parasite had changed as a result of the forecast.”

UK Government funding provided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council has enabled further development of the forecast and it is hoped that even more farmers will benefit in 2016.

*The forecast is the culmination of the work of a number of BAVP members:
Dr Eric Morgan – University of Bristol
Dr Hannah Rose – Univeristy of Bristol
Dr Jan van Dijk – University of Liverpool (previously University of Bristol)
Owen Gethings – Harper Adams University (previously University of Bristol)

Relevant publications:

OWEN J. GETHINGS, HANNAH ROSE, SIÂN MITCHELL, JAN VAN DIJK and ERIC R. MORGAN (2015). Asynchrony in host and parasite phenology may decrease disease risk in livestock under climate warming: Nematodirus battus in lambs as a case study. Parasitology, 142, pp 1306-1317. doi:10.1017/S0031182015000633.

J. van DIJK and E. R. MORGAN (2008). The influence of temperature on the development, hatching and survival of Nematodirus battus larvae. Parasitology, 135, pp 269-283. doi:10.1017/S0031182007003812.

J. van DIJK and E. R. MORGAN (2010). Variation in the hatching behaviour of Nematodirus battus: Polymorphic bet hedging?. International journal for parasitology, 40(6), 675-681. doi:10.1016/j.ijpara.2009.11.002

Apr 08

BAVP meeting 14th-15th April 2016 – Programme and information

This year’s BAVP meeting will be held in Bristol on Thursday 14th pm (1-5) and Friday 15th April am (9-1), at the University of Bristol main precinct (Will’s Memorial building, Queen’s Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1RJ). Please find the programme below.

The Will’s memorial building is next door to Bristol museum, and is easy to find:


The registration desk will be in the main lobby. Registration fees will be payable on arrival, if not already paid by cheque: Full rate £50; students £25. This includes buffet lunches and tea/coffee on both days, but not the evening meal or accommodation. If you have not yet indicated that you plan to join us, please contact eric.morgan@bristol.ac.uk ASAP for catering purposes.


Travel and accommodation

There is a wide choice of affordable hotel and hostel accommodation in the area.

The nearest hotel is the Berkeley Square Hotel, approx. 50m from the meeting venue. Along with its four nearby sister hotels, it is a good choice: http://www.cliftonhotels.com/

Other nearby hotels are the Regency (http://www.theregencybristol.co.uk/), 5 min walk, the very nice Avon Gorge (http://www.theavongorge.com/), 10 min, and a wide choice of city centre hotels, 10-20 min walk.

For those on a tighter budget, there is a basic but clean hostel just yards away (http://homestaybristol.co.uk/) and two more in the city centre, 10 min walk (http://www.thelanesbristol.co.uk/hostel/) (http://www.yha.org.uk/)

Even at short notice, you should be able to find affordable accommodation nearby, e.g. through booking.com

The city is well served by public transport, with both coach (10 min) and rail stations (30 min) an easy walk from the venue. Car parking is usually available at hotels and is possible in nearby multi-storey car parks: the nearest are on Trenchard Street and on Berkeley Place (West End), both 5 minutes’ walk from the venue. Meter parking is available on nearby streets such as Woodland Road, but is time limited (cost £3 for 2 or 3 hours).




Thursday 14th April

Time Speaker Title
1.00 – 2.00 Lunch
Session 1 Helminth epidemiology
2.00 Marisol Collins, University of Liverpool. The HyData Project: Investigating the distribution of Echinococcus granulosus (sensu lato) in the UK
2.20 Martha Betson, University of Surrey. Molecular epidemiology of Ascaris and Trichuris
2.40 Catherine McLeonard, University of Liverpool. Controlling the uncontrollable: predicting the risk of lungworm outbreaks in dairy herds in the UK?
3.00 Ludovica Beltrame, University of Bristol. Simulating the risk of Liver Fluke infection using a mechanistic hydro-epidemiological model
3.20 Tea / coffee
Session 2 Arthropods and arthropod-borne diseases
4.00 Richard Wall, University of Bristol. Tick and tick-borne disease surveillance in the UK: the Big Tick Project
4.20 Roger Daniel, Animal and Plant Health Agency. Inter-current tick-borne fever infection and Bibersteinia trehalosi septicaemia in a five week old lamb
4.40 Mark Eisler, University of Bristol. Vector-borne diseases of African livestock: modelling the hard way
5.00 Close
7.30 Dinner

 Friday 15th April

Time Speaker Title
Session 3 Detection and management of anthelmintic resistance
9.00 Gerald Coles, University of Bristol. A fresh look at anthelmintic resistance in sheep
9.20 Jonathan Love, University of Strathclyde. Probability distributions of faecal egg count data and their impact on investigating anthelmintic efficacy
9.40 Hannah Rose, University of Bristol. Attitudes of horse owners to faecal egg count directed treatment strategies
10.00 BAVP AGM
10.30 Tea / coffee
Session 4 New therapies and aetiologies
11.00 Esther Rawlinson, Merial Animal Health. Prevention of the establishment of Angiostrongylus vasorum infestation in dogs through monthly oral administration of milbemycin oxime/afoxolaner
11.20 Hany Elsheikha, University of Nottingham. The inhibitory effect of monensin (a Wnt signalling inhibitor) on the growth of Toxoplasma gondii infecting human brain cells in vitro.
11.40 Siân Mitchell, Animal and Plant Health Agency. Neospora caninum as a cause of arthrogryposis in a lamb
12.00 Lunch and close