Ben is joined by Dr Stew Burgess from Moredun, farmer Ian May and vet Karen Swindlehurst to discuss sheep scab and how to tackle it.
This episode is brought to you from SCOPS in association with the Moredun Research Institute in Midlothian.
Sheep scab has been around for centuries, but what is it, why is it so difficult to control and how can it be controlled?
Ben's co-host today is Dr Stew Burgess, who leads the sheep scab group at the Moredun Research Institute.
Ben and Stew are joined by Ian May who is a sheep farmer and south west regional manager from the NSA and Karen Swindlehurst who is an experienced farm vet with Dalehead vet group. Both Karen and Ian were coordinators for the RDPE funded sheep scab initiative that we’re going to discuss a but later on.
For more information on SCOPS visit www.scops.org.uk
For our podcast disclaimer see here - scops.org.uk/podcasts/
You are listening to the SCOPS Podcast.
Hello and welcome to episode three of this first series of the SCOPS Podcast, the show in which we put the spotlight on sustainable parasite control in sheep. I'm your host Ben Eagle, a rural affairs journalist and podcaster, and today we're talking about sheep scab and how to tackle it. My co host is Dr Stew Burgess, who leads the sheep scab group at the Morden Research Institute in Midlothian. Stew, welcome to the podcast. We will introduce our guests in a bit, but can you just first of all introduce yourself and explain just what is quite so exciting about working on sheep scab ? Thanks very much, Ben. Yeah, so, so I'm, uh, Stew Burgess, just based at the Mordun, uh, Research Institute just outside of Edinburgh.
Um, I'm a principal investigator at Moredun, and I've been working on on sheep scab now, or control of sheep scab for around 17 years. So quite a long time now, my main focus there is is developing diagnostic tests, a vaccine for the control of sheep scab further down the line, and also coordinating control programs across the UK.
What's so exciting about working on sheep scab? It's an interesting one. I think I find I'm a parasitologist So I find parasites to be to be very exciting and I have a lot of respect for parasites And the way that they're able to influence their host in and in the case of sheep scab Obviously, that's the sheep that they live on top of it's a really important disease from a welfare perspective And so that gives me a lot of hope that we can improve the welfare of our livestock by controlling the disease But also I think it's the size of the problem that Sheep scab represents in the, in the UK, because that gives us an opportunity to actually achieve something lasting, something tangible.
And I mean, Sheep scab's been around for centuries. So what is it, first of all, and why is it so difficult to control? Why are we talking about it today? So I was being about for thousands of years. In fact, we eradicated sheep scab back in, uh, in the 1950s in the UK through coordinated, uh, dipping, uh, campaigns where you, the, the policemen used to come down and make sure that everybody had dipped their, uh, their sheep.
But so obviously we don't do that anymore. Unfortunately, having got rid of it, we then re imported it from Ireland. And it then re established in the U. K. And we did a very good job in the late 80s and early 90s using organophosphate dip to try and control, um, scab. But, unfortunately, the, uh, the government decided to deregulate the disease.
And we were very, very close to getting rid of it at that point. I think we only had a few dozen outbreaks a year, um, in the early 90s. And, uh, and then since then, since deregulation, Um, the disease is now endemic in the UK. So we see something like 10, 000 to 15, 000 outbreaks every year. And about eight, that's affecting about eight to 10, 000 farms, um, a year across the UK.
So the disease itself is caused by an infestation, a skin infestation with an ecto. Parasite, uh, called, uh, ROIs ovis, or the sheep scab mite as is much easier to say. And, and it is not a mite that takes a blood meal off the off of the sheep. It is simply a braid to the skin and it causes an allergic inflammatory reaction in the skin.
And, um, what that, that produces is, is an exudate on the skin, which, like, if you, if you skin your knee, um, you know, you get a, a sort of fluid coming out. And it's, it's that the mites then use as a food source. So, so going back to that point about parasites being, you know, quite fascinating, they are essentially triggering an inflammatory response on the sheep's skin, which gives them the food that they need to survive.
And, and it also creates a very humid environment for them within the fleece. which they need to, um, to, to propagate and to reproduce. So actually, you know, you have to give them some credit there as well. But unfortunately, from the sheep's perspective, what that leads to is that exudate eventually dries out and forms crusts or scabs, and hence the name sheep scab.
Um, and as they dry, they become incredibly itchy. And so the, the animals will do whatever they can to alleviate that itching. So they will, you know, rub up against. fence posts, they'll rub up against barbed wire, trees, whatever they can find to, you know, to alleviate that. They'll also bite away at their own fleece, pull out their wool.
And often with scab, you'll, you'll see animals with wool plugs between their teeth as well. And of course, ultimately that can affect, you know, kind of food intake, but as the disease progresses, the lesions get bigger and bigger. And those signs, those, those clinical signs of disease become more and more apparent.
And, uh, and of course the animals start to lose condition as well. Um, so it has a very big financial impact on the industry, um, somewhere between 80 and 200 million pounds per year that this disease costs to the UK livestock industry. So it's a huge economic and welfare, um, burden. Let's welcome our guests.
I'm really pleased to say that we're joined by Ian May, first of all, who is a sheep farmer. And Southwest regional manager from the NSA were also joined by Karen Swindlehurst, who is an experienced farm vet with Dale Head vet group. Both Karen and Ian were coordinators for the RDPE funded Sheepscab initiative that we're going to discuss a bit later on.
Ian, let's talk about, tell us a bit about yourself first of all, but also. your experience of the amount of sheep scab in the southwest. Yeah. Hi, Ben. Um, yeah, so I'm a, uh, beef and sheep farmer, um, on the Southern edges of Exmoor in North Devon. Um, I'm also the Southwest regional manager, as you said, for the National Sheep Association.
So, um, as part of that National Sheep Association role, I I helped out on the RDPE project, um, which ran last year and the year before. So, in terms of, uh, sheep scab down here, um, I think it's fair to say that it's endemic across the region, but I think your experience as an individual farmer can be very available.
Those areas where there are lots of common grazing, it often recurs every year, whether that's in your flock or in your neighbor's flock or when people are bringing sheep down from off the moors. Um, and the farmers tend to have a general annual routine management that tries to keep that under control.
But if you're, if you're, if you don't have moorland grazing, then You might not experience it for several years, if at all, but it doesn't mean that you're immune. So, you know, it's as simple as stray sheep and someone leaving it, letting them into the field. You know, it's very easy to contract. It's very easy for it to pass from one flop to another, whether it's through a gate or, yeah, could be over a hedge.
Aaron, um, you're at the other side of the country. You're in the north of England. What's the situation in your area? But also, yeah, introduce yourself and tell us about yourself. I'm, um, a Betwickdale head veterinary group. We work on the Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cumbria border. I do a lot of sheep work. I run a flock health training group for our clients.
I believe the sheep scab is, it's not just a north of England problem. We are seeing a lot more scab than we ever have done. Additionally, we always saw scab in the winter months. And now, in the last few years, we're actually seeing the mite causing disease in the summer, even in shorn sheep, which we never saw before.
And we're having some outbreaks during lambing time, which is really quite problematic in gripping sheep, or young lambs are gathering them to treat with injectables. It results in abortions. Metabolic disease, such as twin lamb disease and a lot of mis mothering. So it's very stressful for the sheep and the shepherds and it's causing quite a lot of losses.
Stu, you mentioned that a lot of the older methods of control are no longer with us. So, I mean, what methods of control are now used? What do we have at our disposal? Yeah, so so we've got really just two treatments available. Now we have the macrocyclic lactones or the ML injectable treatments. So that that's one method that we have.
But the problem with those is that they're also heavily relied upon to control gastrointestinal nematodes or roundworms in sheep and cattle. And so we're basically using the same active there to treat different parasites in different conditions. sites within the animal, um, be that on the skin or within the, within the gastrointestinal tract at different dose rates at different times of the year.
And of course, that's an absolute recipe for resistance developing to those drugs, both in the sheep scab mites, but also in the, in the round worms as well and resistance to Those chemicals in the roundworms is, is pretty widespread in the UK now. The other method we have is organophosphate or op plunge dipping.
And that works fantastically well. It's very efficacious, but of course it is a, it is quite a harmful chemical, so we have to be really careful how we use the ops. Um, yeah. both from a health perspective for the people that are using it, but also from an environmental perspective to make sure that we're getting rid of that spent dip in a safe and sustainable way.
I think there are two other challenges to control as well. And one of them is that there's a bit of a stigma around sheep scab that I think is changing, but it has been there for a number of years. And I think it's, it comes about because it's a welfare disease. So it's often been seen as a disease of poor management.
That's couldn't be further from the truth. You know, these mites don't care whether your sheep are in good condition or not Nobody is immune to to sheep scab if you move animals around then they are at a risk of uh of contracting Or picking up the the sheep scab mite So there shouldn't really be any stigma about the disease.
There should be a stigma about Not dealing with the disease. That that should be the stigma, but there's no shame in having scab at all. And then the final part to barriers to control is the presence of subclinical disease. And so these are animals that are infested with the mites, but aren't showing.
those signs of, uh, of, of infestation. You know, they're not necessarily rubbing up against fence posts or biting away at their own fleece, but that doesn't mean that they're, they're, they're not infested. And so quite a lot of scab is actually spread around the country quite innocently by people moving animals around that they aren't aware are infested.
And so it's important that we understand the challenges that that represents as well. Yeah. Cause I'm starting to understand. There's a little bit of the challenge behind this. When Leslie and I were planning this episode, she was telling me that there's really a lot more activity in sheepscap work now than there has been in the past.
Why now? What's the urgency today? So, so part of it, I think, Ben, is around, you know, now that we are seeing more use of organophosphates, which, which is, as I say, is a good thing, then we are seeing more and more contract dippers. becoming available. And that just means that that that treatment option is more is more widespread.
And that that actually is really important, because what we have seen in recent years are mites that are resistant to those injectable treatments. So they first materialized about five or six years ago, along the English Welsh border border region. And we're now seeing those resistant mites across all of the UK.
Now, they're still rare. But they are present in all parts of the country. So, um, and so that is a real challenge because you won't, you don't realize that you have resistant mites until a treatment has failed. You realize the treatment has failed and then you have to go in and treat again. But if you don't go in and treat again with an alternative treatment, so going back in with an injectable, for example, isn't going to deal with the issue of what we have shown, thankfully, in recent years.
is that the organophosphates actually kill the mites that are resistant to the injectables. So, so it's really important that we have those contract dippers available so that people can access mobile dipping should they need it to treat their animals. And I think the, the other part in terms of why there's more urgency around it today is that obviously it's a big welfare issue.
We have to be aware of the environmental. issues around not just using the injectable treatments because they can harm biodiversity by obviously having an impact on other insects, uh, dung beetles being, being one of those, but also the organophosphates. Of course, we need to be really careful as to how we use those to, to prevent environmental contamination, particularly contamination of watercourses.
And then probably the main driver really is. this feeling of frustration from farmers across the country not being able to deal with the disease effectively. And a lot of that comes about because sheep scab should never be considered as a disease of one farm at one time. It tends to spread from farm to farm.
And so it's really important when we talk about sheep scab that we talk about dealing with it in a coordinated way. By bringing farmers together and getting them to work collectively to deal with the disease, because otherwise it simply spreads from one farm to the next and you just chase the disease around, um, around the country, which is, is kind of what we've been guilty of in the past really.
Okay. Okay. I mean, you mentioned contract dippers in terms of, uh, general management and how this has changed over time. Where are we now in terms of new tools and what's available now? Yeah, so it's a pretty one of the biggest game changes in in recent years is the blood test that more done developed pretty about six years ago.
It's been it's been commercially available for about six years now. Um, and it is it's a very straightforward blood test. Uh, it detects antibodies against one of the proteins that the sheep scab mite produces and deposits onto the skin of the animal. That test means we can actually pick the disease up before you see the clinical signs.
So you actually have a chance now to get ahead of the disease, find out where it is before it has a chance to spread further, and then not just deal with it there. But then also looked at contiguous properties to see if it has spread further. So you can now coordinate and target those treatments, which is absolutely crucial if we're going to control the disease in the future.
But Karen, from a, from a veterinary perspective, Stew's already outlined some of the challenges, um, in terms of control on farm, but from, from your perspective, why is it so difficult for farmers, um, to control sheep scab? There's a whole host of factors in place, certainly in our area. One of the biggest parts possibly is the ML injectables not being effective.
I suspect that we have some resistant mites in our area, but a lot of people don't realise that with some of the drugs you have to treat, then you have to move to clean pasture. So if you're using ivermectin or dexamax, you have to move to this clean pasture because these drugs don't have persistent action.
It's only OPDEX and sidectin 2%. They have a persistency and continue to work for long enough to break the life cycle of the mite. Now, clean pasture is an area that's been free of sheep for 17 days, and the way that we farm in this practice area, at certain times of the year, truly clean pastures like this, and ones that don't have contact with neighbours are quite scarce.
Another factor is that often some management groups of sheep are not treated. on the farm. So fattening lambs might not be treated on a lot of farms because of the long withdrawals of the OPs and the sidectins. So they are going to be harboring the scab mite in the flock and it can spread to other sheep.
We have an awful lot of movement of sheep in our area. Lambs come from the high field. Farms down into lower pastures further down in the valley, and our ewes and hogs go off for wintering. So that gives an awful lot of opportunity of mixing of different groups of sheep and different flocks, and that's allowing scab to spread.
There's a big reluctance to dip on some farms. Human health and environmental concerns are really valid concerns. And the cost of the disposal of the dip is quite considerable. It's gone up quite a lot in recent years, and that is a frequent barrier to dipping. And Stu's already mentioned the stigma of having scab.
That is really real. A lot of farmers feel ashamed that they've got scab. They think it reflects poor stocksmanship. So they don't talk to their neighbours, they don't tell them they've got scab, and so we're not getting coordinated treatments. Helping to prevent this spread. Thanks, Karen. Um, Stu, uh, your team have just finished an RDPE funded sheeps Gap initiative in England, um, which has been doing blood testing on clusters of high risk farms and coordinating with treatment.
Um, I'm just wondered if you can just give us an outline of this project, um, and explain how effective it's been. Yeah, yeah, it's been a really good project. So, um, I mean, we're quite lucky to have, you know, Karen and Ian here, who have, who've both been acting as the local coordinators within two of the regions of that project.
So, Ian down in the, in the southwest with the NSA, and then Karen in, in the north working hand in hand with. The farmer network and so yeah, the plan for that project was to work in three areas of England that we knew were hotspots for sheep scab. We looked to recruit 300 farmers in total, 100 in each of those regions.
They had to be in clusters, so they had to be farms that were contiguous to each other or shared, for example, common grazing. And then what we asked them to do is to, to work together using that blood test that I talked about earlier to first of all, uh, test their flocks and identify where they're, where there were problems with sheep scab.
We then help them to coordinate their treatments. We didn't pay for their treatments. The, the farmers paid for their, their own treatments, um, which, which I think actually. was pretty well, um, taken up. And then after that, we then followed up with a further blood test in the second year to see whether the disease had been controlled in those areas.
And if it hadn't where it was still present, how could we then look at coordinating further, further treatments there? Um, and what we were able to show was in all three of those regions on a year. By year basis, we saw significant levels of reduction in the levels of scab in all three regions, which is really, really quite interesting.
But the other thing that we saw is a relatively high prevalence of subclinical disease. So these were flocks that weren't showing, weren't necessarily showing at the time clinical signs, but were positive by the blood tests. And quite a lot of these were associated with common grazing. And again, that's a real issue when it comes to controlling disease, because if you can't see it, you can't deal with it.
Yeah. I mean, Karen, let's go straight over to you on this, but also your experience, um, generally in terms of, were you surprised at all by how the farmers engaged? What worked with it? Well, I set up two clusters. They were centered around common grazing and we sampled all the active graziers and the bordering farms as well, all the bordering neighbors.
We weren't seeing a lot of clinical scab in the flocks that we sampled, probably because the majority of these guys are dipping. But we did find antibodies, so the scab was there in some clinical way. So we weren't seeing itchy sheep, but those sheep were still spreading scab around. The fact that we found antibodies showed that the sheep had been exposed to scab.
Found that the meetings that we had helped to break down some of the stigma of scab, and it certainly helped with coordinating treatments. There still is some frustration in amongst the group that the neighbors in the wider area that weren't engaged and weren't coordinating treatments effectively. And that was through different um, reasons.
There's different flock types with a different management calendar. You know, there's earlier s in some of their, their neighbors and there was people that weren't involved in sampling as well, but the people that we did sample there was a really good positive engagement. I run a sheep health planning group, so I offered the sampling to the guys that were already monitoring for other parasites.
We do a lot of fluking, worm sampling. And they certainly saw the benefit of detecting the scab exposure at an early stage, well before we're seeing the actual sheep. Ian, over to you. What was your experience? Yeah, thank you. Um, so we worked quite closely with the Exmoor Hill Farming Network across the whole of Exmoor and spit our 100 farms into approximately seven or eight clusters.
One of the things that came out of this was that that local knowledge and local trust with the farmers is very important in trying to bring everyone together. So if I'd. Flown in from a distance and, um, tried to instill the project. It wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful. So that local buy in and the local coordination is very important.
It's a big one. It is. It is. Um, the, uh, the seven or eight clusters were somewhere. cluster around moorlands, um, and common grazing moorland associations. Others were just around parishes and sort of ring fenced areas where we knew there was a particular scab problem. One of the clusters we found, we managed to identify ML resistant scab.
So the vet working in the in the area managed to take a scraping, which ends up with live mites, which have now been grown on in Morden. Um, and we've managed to prove that whilst they're resistant to the ML injectables, that they're not, um, they're not resistant to OP. So the OP still, um, dipping still acts as an effective treatment for them.
So the general uptake was very good. I mean, obviously there's, you have to work harder in getting some people involved than others. But once the project was up and going, it was very collaborative and the farmers enjoyed working together. It was also good to get the vets, different vet practices working together and talking through issues.
Often they work in isolation. So, you know, getting them to talk around these kind of issues is very important as well. And I guess sort of a take home. for me anyway, is that Sheepscab, we've said it can be, you feel bad because you've got it, you feel you try and hide your head and deal with it yourself.
And, and you can feel that you get it every year, because someone else is bringing it on, or your neighbor's not doing what, you know, what they should be doing. The fact that it was coordinated, I think the farmers felt that they, they were being proactive. Whereas, usually you feel, if you're doing it on your own, you're feeling you're being quite reactive, and just, it's the same crunch every year.
But this way, using the project, it actually felt like you were on the front foot a bit more. Yeah. I mean, from what I'm hearing, Stu, there's a lot of positive to be taken from this. Um, you're nodding to that. I mean, I'm just also wondering, are there any other initiatives either happening now in other parts of the UK or in the planning?
Yeah. So, so, uh, I mean, uh, and a lot of those have really come about, you know, on the, on the back of that RDPE funded project. So there's a project running in Wales now, the all Wales, uh, sheep scab eradication. Um, program that's a free year program, which just started, um, back in the, in the summer in Wales.
Um, and so there's, there's quite a lot of activity in Wales at the moment, which is, which is really encouraging. And then through, through Mordon, we've also been running a project in Northern Ireland. Um, so that's a BBSRC funded project working with AFPI and Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland to try and determine the extent of.
The issue of sheep scab in Northern Ireland and what we've seen there is that actually there's a lot more sheep scab in Northern Ireland than was previously understood. And we've been able to go in and coordinate treatments for a lot of those cases. We've actually worked with somewhere between 100 and 150 farmers across Northern Ireland over the last year.
So that's actually been quite an exciting development and we're looking forward to continuing that project in Northern Ireland. And then here I'd be, you know, uh, remiss to, to forget Scotland being based in Scotland here. And, um, and, and one of the big projects that we're, we're running here at the moment is funded by the Scottish government and it's based out on the Western Isles of, um, Lewis and Harris.
And what we're doing there is we're working with farmers to first of all use the blood test to identify areas where scab is an issue and then go in with coordinated treatments to try and deal with the problem there. And Lewis and Harris is quite unique in that. A lot of the farmers work in crofting systems, so you have lots of, lots of small holdings, lots of relatively small level producers, but a huge number of sheep up there, um, as well as some larger producers, um, within that, and a real reliance on the use of common grazing.
All of those issues that I mentioned around, you know, risk factors for scab are there on Lewis and Harris. You've got contiguous properties, you've got lots of animal movement and you've got the high reliance on common grazing. And that doesn't mean that You know, Lewis and Harris suffers any more from sheep scab than the rest of the UK.
But what it means is that when scab is there, it's really hard for them to deal with it by themselves, collectively. Um, and so that's really what this program is about. It's trying to work with the crofters to come up with a program that we can help to control sheep scab on Lewis and Harris and maybe hopefully in the future.
make those islands scab free. You are listening to the Scots podcast. A question really for Karen as a vet working, you know, in an area where we have tried to control sheep scab through the RDPE project. How do you think we can get more farmers to be involved in initiatives like this? We've spread the word scabs increasing and break down a lot of those stigmas associated with it.
If farmers realize having an infestation is not a sign of poor stockmanship, that would really help, but tackling scab as a concern in a wider area rather than just an individual flock problem is going to be key. So local people approaching local groups, common graziers, discussion groups. And explaining why individual flock controls may not be working, coordinating effective treatment plan if scabs found, is going to be the key to getting on top of the scab.
Funding for meetings and educating vets and advisors and farmers and possibly funding samples is going to be fundamental in all of that as well. Yeah, and just building on Karen's points, coordination between vet practices and the farmers is key, um, in my mind. Sharing knowledge between the individual farms, um, understanding how the, how the blood tests can fit into that.
So early diagnosis, not waiting for clinical signs before treatment, it gets, it spreads much wider. What extolling the virtues of the project that we've done, you know. the long term, hopefully long term effectiveness of a more coordinated approach should show good returns. I would hope you bring this to Scots.
Um, Scots has also developed a new kind of practice for mobile dippers. Why is this so important? Yeah, so it's a really important development because, as I highlighted earlier, we don't have a lot of treatments available for sheep scab. We've got those injectables and then the organophosphate plunge dip that that's really it.
Um, and so first of all, it's really important that we Use those, particularly the, the organophosphate that we use that effectively, um, but also sustainably in the future because we don't want to lose that as a, as a treatment option. And unfortunately in time these mites will develop resistance to the organophosphates.
It, it's, it's almost inevitable that, that they will develop that. So we just want to make sure that. That is as far down the line as possible, um, you know, so that we actually have the opportunity to, for example, bring in a vaccine that I'll, I'll, I'll speak about later, but also to look at developing new treatments and new therapeutics.
It's really important that when we're dipping sheep that they are dipped for a full minute in, in the dip. It's absolutely crucial to make sure that the dip has an opportunity to get down to the to the skin level because remember that's where the mites are located at the skin level. And it also is important that those those sheep are fully immersed so their heads need to go under within the dip tank twice within that minute period.
There's also been, in recent years, more use of showers and jetting systems to apply sheep dip. Not only is it, is it illegal, to apply sheep dip in that fashion, but it's also not efficacious. It won't treat sheep scab. It will look as if it's treated. It will kill a good few of the mites, you know, but it won't get down to the skin level.
The animals might start to look a little bit better off. But within time, the surviving mites will come back. They will reinvest the animal in, in the kind of nightmare scenario, we might then start to see resistant mites coming through. And, and finally, I suppose, I mean, where's all this heading, Stu?
Because I mean, from our conversation today, I suppose we can, we can divide the, the control measures and the, and the situation generally in terms of your biological and, and chemical control, but also the social science side as well. Um, we've spoken. about tackling stigma, and we've spoken about coordinated effort.
Um, so how do we bring all this together and what's next in terms of sheepscap research? There is this overarching kind of grouping which is being run via SCOPS, which is trying to bring together all of these aspects. So, of course, at the moment we have these different control programs running in the different regions of the UK, but what we really need is a coordinated UK wide approach to the control of SCAB because SheepSCAB doesn't care about boundaries and we have animal movements across all of the regions of the of the UK.
So, so it's really, really important that we look at making control sustainable across the whole of the nation. I think it's only through doing that that we can get. you know, real control of scab. But as Karen kind of alluded to that, it is important that we, we make the test available to people, that we make the coordination available to people as well.
And in many cases, you know, these clusters that we've been running, and Karen again is a great example, have been led by the local vet. So the vet is really important to this, uh, you know, to, to this solution as well, because they know the farmers they used to working in those areas. And, and they're seen as obviously a, a source of a trusted source of information, but ultimately what we're trying to do is reduce the prevalence of the disease because at the moment we're, we're pretty high.
We have a lot, a lot of scab around in, in the UK. Last winter was, I think, one of the worst I've seen for, for sheep scab. I, I, I've seen sheep scab in all parts of the UK, so I really don't want to get into that situation again. So the only way to do that is to take that UK wide approach and look at giving the farmers the tools that they need to be able to control the disease in their own settings.
And once we do reduce the prevalence of disease, That creates a really good environment for us to come in in a few years time with the vaccine that we've been developing at Mordun as well. And that hopefully gives us a much more lasting, sustainable means of controlling sheep scab. But the, that vaccine does not give sterile immunity.
The animals will still get infested, but it's with much, much smaller lesions and fewer mites. And that means it's much more difficult for them to infest other animals. And so. we have to be aware of how that vaccine works and how that could be incorporated with the treatments we have with the blood test to look at lasting control of sheep's gap.
Well, I think we will leave it there. And I know there'll be lots of listeners who, uh, Quite excited by what you're saying about a vaccine there, Stu, but thank you to you all for a really, really comprehensive overview of Sheepscab today. Big thanks to our guests, Ian May and Karen Swindlehurst and thanks also to my co host for this episode, Dr.
Stu Burgess. Thank you very much for listening. Please see the show notes for more information. Um, there's lots of information there, including, uh, links to the Scops website, which is scops. org. uk. Um, in the next and final episode for this first series, we'll be focusing on liver fluke and managing the risk.
I've been your host Ben Eagle and you've been listening to the Scops podcast. I look forward to you joining us again next time.