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Antiparasitic resistance a major problem facing agricultural industry and requires a science-based response

26th June 2023

Veterinary Ireland has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, T.D. to follow a science-based response to addressing the issue of antiparasitic resistance in Ireland.

The issue of antiparasitic resistance is a worldwide phenomenon and is both a public health issue as well as being a serious issue for the agri-food industry here in Ireland. The ability to farm livestock on grazing systems is only possible where parasitic disease can be managed effectively.

A study by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in 2016 outlined that 56% of worming interventions in sheep were not effective1. Kelleher et al.2 in 2017 found extremely high levels of resistance to all groups of wormers in cattle. The Veterinary Record recently published a case of high mortality on a dairy farm in Wales where adult cows died due to inability to treat lungworm infections due to resistance3.

According to Conor Geraghty, MVB Cert DHH, Chair, Veterinary Ireland Medicines Working Group “to address the issue of resistance we must ensure that the right product is given to the right animals at the right time, that refugia is maintained through selective, targeted treatments and that parasite control becomes a planned farm-specific procedure. The gateway to this outcome is through proper, scientific, farm-specific advice from the farmers’ vet where a Client-Patient-Practice- Relationship (CCPR) is in existence. This advice must be ongoing and monitored, take account of farm specific issues such as epidemiology, pharmacology, the clinical picture, stocking densities, buying policy and local factors.”

Reduced cost to farmers from reduced use

“Proper tailored advice from the farmers’ own veterinary practitioner (in the context of a Client-Patient-Practice-Relationship) will result in farmers using less antiparasitic veterinary medicines resulting in savings to farmers and improved farm productivity and profit while addressing resistance,” according to Geraghty. 

1 Keane et al., High level of treatment failure with commonly used anthelmintics on Irish sheep farms. Ir Vet J 67, 16 (2014) 
2 Kelleher et al., Anthelmintic resistance among gastrointestinal nematodes of cattle on dairy calf to beef farms in Ireland. Ir Vet J 73, 12 (2020) 
3 Lungworm in dairy cows with suspected failure of previous pour-on anthelmintic treatment. Vet Record (2022)

“These medicines are precious resources to be used prudently for the preservation of human, animal and environmental health and should not be treated as input commodities,” said Kate O’Dwyer, Chair of the Veterinary Ireland Food Animal Interest Group.

“We need to follow European and international best practice because failing to do so could risk Ireland’s reputation as a food producing country,” according to O’Dwyer.

At the Veterinary Ireland AGM & Conference on the 25th November 2022, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, T.D. is on record to have said that the worrying development of APR (antiparasitic resistance) threatens the sustainability of our grass-based production model, with potentially devastating impacts on animal health and welfare and can result in production losses in food-producing species, presenting a challenge for food security.

At the AGM the Minister stated: “This year my Department introduced a TASAH (Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health) programme to specifically focus on parasite control on farms. This programme reinforced the value of veterinary expertise in successfully controlling parasites at farm level,” said Minister McConalogue. “Anthelmintic resistance is a complex problem and as management practices and risk factors vary markedly between farms, there is huge value in tailored veterinary advice.”

According to Geraghty, “it is vital that the Minister continues a science based and internationally credible approach to addressing the issue of anthelmintic resistance. This is to the ultimate benefit of the farming community and also human and animal health in the One Health context.”

  • DATE:
    26th June 2023

    Veterinary Ireland

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    457 7976

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