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WG1 - Specificity of goat behaviour and epidemiology of parasite infections PDF Print

Leader:    Laura Rinaldi,
Deputies: Vasile Cosma,  Christophe Chartier

This WG will focus on studies on parasite biology and how some traits of goat behaviour influence the incidence/prevalence of parasite infections depending on the management systems; the regional environmental conditions and the susceptibility of different European goat breeds.

Particular attention will be given to the increased parasite infection risks due to global changes, in particular the climate change, which poses new challenges to traditional methods of goat husbandry and the need of new solutions to ensure sustainable livestock production in future years.

Geographical information systems (GIS), Remote Sensing (RS) and Spatial Analysis (SA) techniques, together with new diagnostic methods will help to monitor the spread of parasite infections in goat flocks: this will be correlated with the changes in environmental and climatic conditions to generate models and predict future trends. To reach these general goals, 4 tasks have been identified:

Task 1. 1: Differences in parasite populations between goat and sheep
Possible difference in parasite populations of goats and sheep will be assessed in particular, by using molecular tools. This task could have important implications for studies on genetic of population but also for practical issues in order to correctly design strategies of control. For example, different strains of parasites could harbour different genes responsible of drug resistance.

Task 1. 2: Specificities of goat behaviour and parasite infection
Goats are particularly a suitable host model to study parasite infection because of their diversity of food selection, their ability to exploit both grass and shrubs, and their adaptation to rangeland environment. The specificities of goat behaviour will be studied in order to determine how this factor influences the pattern of infections, in terms of type, prevalence, and abundance of parasitic species. On the other hand, the goat behaviour will be studied also taking into consideration the consumption of natural compounds (e.g. tannins), presenting antiparasitic properties (see Task 4.3).

Task  1. 3: Epidemiology of parasite infections in goats in Europe
The epidemiology of parasitic infections of goats is determined by several factors governed by parasite-host-environment interactions. The pattern of these infections will vary greatly from one year to the next and between geographical locations depending on the prevailing climatic conditions. The distribution of endo and ecto parasites of goats in Europe will be studied - using sensitive diagnostic tools (e.g. the FLOTAC technique for endoparasites) - at both country and local level in order to study the epidemiological factors governing these patterns. These studies will have important practical implications, because when antiparasitic use is timed with epidemiology, maximum benefits will be obtained.

Task  1. 4: Environment, husbandry and risk assessment of parasite infections
Following the findings of task 1.4, environmental and management risk factors for parasitic infections of goats in Europe will be assessed using innovative technologies in epidemiology as GIS, RS and SA. The parasites infecting goats are absolutely dependent on specific environmental conditions to survive and disperse. Environmental changes could be or not predictable, therefore a better knowledge of parasite ecology and population biology in goats will be conducted in order to understand what we are observing in the field. These data will be exploited in order to propose predictive models of infection and/or co infection with the various parasites.

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