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Vet Res. 2002 Sep-Oct;33(5):449-53.

Towards a lower prevalence of Oestrus ovis infections in sheep in a temperate climate (south west France).

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UMR INRA/ENVT 959, Physiopathologie Infectieuse et Parasitaire des Ruminants, Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire, Toulouse, France.


Oestrus ovis larvae are obligatory parasites of the nasal and sinus cavities of sheep and goats. In the temperate climate of western Europe, fly attacks occur between May and October and the first stage larvae arrest their development within the host between October and February. Oestrosis clinical signs such as nasal discharge and sneezing are well known by sheep breeders in southwest France. According to veterinarian recommendations, most of them treat their animals with long lasting fasciolicides once a year at least, mainly during the fly activity period and at the beginning of the hypobiotic period (when the parasitic population is only constituted of larvae). The consequences of these therapeutic programs were analysed in a local slaughterhouse by larval counts. Both prevalence and intensities of O. ovis infections decreased between 1989-1991 (before the use of systematic treatments) and 1996-1998 (after the spread of these treatments). The use of systematic treatments during the fly activity period and the beginning of the hypobiotic period seems to be very efficient in O. ovis control and could theoretically lead to a possible 'eradication' program as with cattle hypodermosis. Nevertheless the presence of parasites in apparently healthy goats, the possibility for a fly generation to develop before the first treatment in July-August and the succession of several fly generations all around the year in southern Mediterranean and tropical countries will maintain O. ovis infections. Furthermore, there are increased concerns about drug residues on consumer health and environment and this is the basis for the prospect of alternative strategies in O. ovis control.

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