Global change, parasite transmission and disease control: lessons from ecology
Analysis of 85 studies on gastrointestinal nematode infections in first-grazing season (FGS) calves is presented. The studies cover a 26-year period and were carried out in 13 countries in Western Europe. Both control and chemoprophylactic-treated (early in the season) FGS calf groups were included. In 53 of the 85 studies, clinical outbreaks of parasitic gastroenteritis (PGE) were observed during the FGS in the control groups. The mean initial age (and weight) of the control calf group was significantly associated with PGE outbreaks: 82% of control calf groups < or = 6 months of age had outbreaks of PGE, compared to only 33% of control calf groups > 6 months of age. In 92% of trials where the geometric mean faecal egg count (MFEC) was > or = 200 EPG on Day 56, PGE outbreaks were observed, but where it was < 200 EPG, only 29% had PGE. The use of these two factors in assessing the likelihood of PGE outbreaks in untreated calf groups in the future FGS is therefore, proposed. No chemoprophylactic-treated groups had PGE, but there was a highly significant negative relationship between maximum faecal egg counts in the chemoprophylactic-treated calves and the proportion of the trial covered by the different chemoprophylactic systems. Higher stocking densities were significantly associated with higher pasture contamination in both control and chemoprophylactic-treated calves. A highly significant positive relationship between the weight gained in the chemoprophylactic-treated groups and the estimated duration of the various chemoprophylactic systems was found, but there were large variations in weight gains (60-160 kg) between groups even with the same chemoprophylactic. Despite this and other highly significant associations, it was not possible to indicate what weight gains were obtained by the end of the FGS, from factors measured early in the FGS.