Monday, September 6, 2010

Haemonchus Contortus

This from the ATTRA web site.

“Barber pole worm - the parasitic nematode responsible for anemia, bottle jaw, and death of
infected sheep and goats mainly during summer months in warm, humid climates.
Recommendations are based on current research findings and are subject to revision as
we learn more about the biology of the parasite and host and alternative products that
may act as anthelmintics.”
We’ve saved some lambs but we’ve lost two lambs so far and two more are in the process of dying as I write this post, this will be four lambs in the last 40 days. This has been by far the most devastating parasite we have come across besides cocidia, which we are now able to manage with great success. The problem with the Barber pole worm is how fast it hits. Once you realize a lamb is away from the herd with its head hanging down its probably too late even if said lamb is chewing cud, eating and running from you as you try to check out what might be going on with him or her.

We, like many farms use the FAMACHA method of determining whether we treat for parasites. This is where you check the inner eyelid for signs of anemia, before you actually treat; this is so the worms don’t become resistant to wormers due to over use and exposure. See these pesky little devils have a way of becoming completely resistant to anthilmetics. The wormer (CYDECTIN) we have been using is now on the list of the anthilmitics that the barber pole worm is now known to show resistance to. This is really bad news to us and the two lambs in sick bay fighting for their lives. But again, by time you realize this is the problem it’s already too late. We had one of our kid bucks show signs of bottle jaw (caused by the barber pole worm) we treated him with the wormer and it worked however he was so anemic we took him and his mom to our vet and did a full blood transfusion. He was in the hospital for three days! He’s alive and doing great, but if we weren’t grooming him for breeding, we could not have justified the cost, and surly he would have died. The vet bill was equivalent to a catered company Christmas party for the vet staff and family. Thank god I have that up my sleeve.

So what are we going to do? I have friends all over the state that are taking huge losses. Not because they are bad managers, these folks take such good care of their animals and spend all of their spare time desperately trying to figure this thing out. But it’s really hurting us bad. This year in particular, the heat and humid weather is exactly what this parasite loves, so it’s thriving faster that we can shake a stick at. So we'll move the sheep more frequently, we’ll keep trying to find ways to fight it, we’ll try not to take it personal and blame ourselves. That is the biggest thing to struggle against is the blame. Questioning our skills, our management, everything. We feel so responsible for these animals and we do everything in our power to give them the highest best possible lives and to have something that is currently out of our control is very heart breaking and shameful.
We’ll keep scouring over web sites and keep trying different methods of management and we’ll keep talking to other farmers to keep this quest alive. But, it’s hard to talk about because of the shame and fear of being seen as a bad manager. We are all effected by this, body mind and soul.
Here is one thing I have found. However, it hasn’t worked on these last two. Several friends and a vet have recommended cydectin (pour on) by mouth (drench) 1cc per 10 pounds. I have found doubling it works for some. If they are really bad I back it up with a Penicillin injection three to four days. I have had success before but as I’ve said, these last two looked like they were going to make it but have taken a serious turn for the worst just overnight. The anemia is just too severe. When we found them they were not down, but their gums and eyelids were very pale. We totally thought we had gotten them in time. It was a surprise when we went out this morning and got very little response from them. Very sad.


ChrisP said...

It may not help, but we visitors do feel for you. Keep loving.

alicegoochbucketass said...

Hey Lisa,
I am Lori and Ray's son. I met you at the Cherry Street market on Saturday. Here are some suggestions. Obviously, one of the first things to do is to get the anemia under control. Even with a parasitic infection, there are things you can do to increase the amount of hemoglobin and oxygen binding sites in your lambs blood. Check with a vet before taking any of these steps. They are very safe, but you will want to run it past your vet first before trying this. I would suggest administering vitmin B6. Vitamin B6 (specifically the active form known as pyridoxyl phosphat "PLP") is a molecule necessary for the production of hemoglobin (the molecule in red blood cells that binds to oxygen). The introduction of PLP can also facilitate in the binding of two additional molecules of oxygen to existing hemoglobin. I would also recommend administering an iron injection. Iron is the central atom in the heme ring of hemoglobin that directly binds oxygen. This should greatly improve the anemia problem, and buy some more time for the animals body to produce more eosinophils (the parasite attacking cells of the immune system)and hopefully make a recovery. If you have any questions, contact my mom and she can get ahold of me. I hope this helps.
Jake H.

Lisa said...

Jake, Thanks that makes sense. I called my vet. One lamb is stroner now so I'll bring him in tomorrow. He just got up and drank water on his own. Thats a huge improvment.
Thanks for the insite!

CrisP, thank you it does help more than you know.