Different patterns of faecal egg output following infection of Scottish blackface lambs with Ostertagia circumcincta
Stear, M. J.
Bishop, S. C.
Duncan, J. L.
Karimi, S. K.
Faecal nematode egg counts were monitored in 184 Scottish Blackface lambs during natural exposure to a mixed, predominantly Ostertagia circumcincta infection and 12 lambs were selected which showed consistently zero (low count group; nine lambs) or consistently positive faecal egg counts (high count group; three lambs). These lambs were then treated with anthelmintic and challenged with 50,000 infective larvae of O. circumcincta and monitored thrice-weekly for 38 weeks; they were then re-challenged with another 50,000 infective larvae of O. circumcincta and monitored for a further 8 weeks. All sheep gave positive egg counts following deliberate infection. However, there was considerable variation among sheep in the size and timing of the peak in egg production. In particular, the pattern of mean values for faecal egg counts was different in the two groups. Egg counts were lower in the later periods of the extended infection in both groups of sheep. During the first half of the extended infection, egg counts were lower in sheep from the low count group, but during the second half of the infection the pattern was reversed and egg counts were lower in sheep from the high count group. There was a weak positive correlation between egg counts following anthelmintic treatment and 28 days exposure to natural infection and egg counts 28 days after a deliberate infection. Egg counts in the later stages of the deliberate infection were strongly but negatively correlated with egg counts following natural infection. The results of these studies show that differences in egg count following natural infection can be reproduced in experimental infections and that there is substantial variation in the pattern of egg production over time in different sheep. They also suggest that naturally resistant lambs are better able to delay worm development than naturally susceptible lambs.