Diagnosis, Treatment and Management of Haemonchus contortus in Small Ruminants

R B Besier, L P Kahn, Neil Sargison, J A Van Wyk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Haemonchus contortus is a highly pathogenic, blood-feeding nematode of small ruminants, and a significant cause of mortalities worldwide. Haemonchosis is a particularly significant threat in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions, where warm and moist conditions favour the free-living stages, but periodic outbreaks occur more widely during periods of transient environmental favourability. The clinical diagnosis of haemonchosis is based mostly on the detection of anaemia in association with a characteristic epidemiological picture, and confirmed at postmortem by the finding of large numbers of H. contortus in the abomasum. The detection of impending haemonchosis relies chiefly on periodic monitoring for anaemia, including through the ‘FAMACHA’ conjunctival-colour index, or through faecal worm egg counts and other laboratory procedures. A range of anthelmintics for use against H. contortus is available, but in most endemic situations anthelmintic resistance significantly limits the available treatment options. Effective preventative programmes vary depending on environments and enterprise types, and according to the scale of the haemonchosis risk and the local epidemiology of infections, but should aim to prevent disease outbreaks while maintaining anthelmintic efficacy. Appropriate strategies include animal management programmes to avoid excessive H. contortus challenge, genetic and nutritional approaches to enhance resistance and resilience to infection, and the monitoring of H. contortus infection on an individual animal or flock basis. Specific strategies to manage anthelmintic resistance centre on the appropriate use of effective anthelmintics, and refugia-based treatment schedules. Alternative approaches, such as biological control, may also prove useful, and vaccination against H. contortus appears to have significant potential in control programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHaemonchus contortus and Haemonchosis – Past, Present and Future Trends
EditorsRobin B Gasser, Georg Von Samson-Himmelstjerna
PublisherAcademic Press
ISBN (Print)978-0-12-810395-1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016

Publication series

NameAdvances in Parasitology


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