Drug resistant nematodes cost European livestock industry millions each year

A European-wide assessment of the economic burden of gastrointestinal nematodes, Fasciola hepatica (common liver fluke) and Dictyocaulus viviparus (bovine lungworm) infections to the ruminant livestock industry is reported in Preventive Veterinary Medicine.

The study estimated that parasitic worms cost the European livestock industry more than €1.8 billion per year, with drug-resistance costing at least €38 million per year in production losses and treatment costs. The study can support the identification of livestock sectors and regions where the largest losses occur and inform control programmes and research policies at national and European level.

Agricultural economic data was combined with the latest data on the levels of disease and drug resistance in 18 European countries. Data were not available for all European countries and only one class of veterinary medicine (macrocyclic lactones) was included in the analyses. There are five classes of veterinary medicine available to treat parasitic worms in livestock, and drug resistance is widespread against at least three of these classes. This means that the costs are likely to be higher than the conservative estimates reported in the study.

The study was led by Dr Johannes Charlier of the Belgian scientific consultancy Kreavet, as part of a European Cooperation in Science & Technology (COST) action, COMBAR (Combatting Anthelmintic Resistance in Ruminants). It involved a total of 23 organisations who brought together regional expertise and the latest data on the economic impacts of parasitic disease in the European livestock industry.

Article: Charlier, J., Rinaldi, L., Musella, V., Ploeger, H. W., Chartier, C., Vineer, H. R., Hinney, B., von Samson-Himmelstjerna, G., Băcescu, B., Mickiewicz, M., Mateus, T. L., Martinez-Valladares, M., Quealy, S., Azaizeh, H., Sekovska, B., Akkari, H., Petkevicius, S., Hektoen, L., Höglund, J., Morgan, E. R., Claerebout, E. (2020). Initial assessment of the economic burden of major parasitic helminth infections to the ruminant livestock industry in Europe. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 182, 105103, doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2020.105103

[SOURCE: European Cooperation in Science & Technology (COST)]