A new project manager has been appointed to the Ovis Management programme, which works to promote control of C. ovis – or sheep measles – across New Zealand.
Michelle Simpson has taken over from Dan Lynch, who has retired after heading the programme for 28 years.
Michelle, who lives in Halcombe in the Manawatu, has a background in laboratory science and was formerly manager of the large animal department for Southern Rangitikei Veterinary Services. She is married to a sheep and beef farmer and is also a volunteer firefighter.
“Sheep measles poses no risk to human health but causes blemishes in sheep meat, which is undesirable for consumers and particularly for the export market,” says Michelle.
“It costs farmers a lot of money due to condemned stock, so it is an important issue for the primary sector.”
C. ovis is caused by the Taenia ovis tapeworm. Dogs can become infected by eating untreated meat or offal, infected with live cysts, and then spread to sheep through tapeworm eggs in dog faeces left in grazing areas. Eggs can also be spread from dog faeces over large areas, predominantly by flies.
Best practice for dog health and sheep measles is for all farm dogs to be treated monthly with cestocidal (tapeworm) drugs containing the ingredient Praziquantel – a cheap and effective treatment, and an All Wormer every three months.
“A frequent issue with Ovis is that if a farmer is not sending in lambs for processing, they may not know that they are passing the problem on,” says Michelle.
“Then, when a farmer ends up with issues with their product, they don’t know who to turn to. I see an important part of my role as helping those farmers to spread the word, that everyone has a part to play in protecting the sheepmeat market.
“It is important to get the message out there that all dog owners who take their dogs near farmland, or where sheep graze, must dose their dogs every month. That is essential because the tapeworm has a short life cycle and dosing three-monthly is not enough to stop the parasite from spreading.