The effects of climate change on ovine parasitic gastroenteritis determined using veterinary surveillance and meteorological data for Northern Ireland over the period 1999-2009

C. McMahon, A. W. Gordon, H. W. J. Edgar, R. E. B. Hanna, G. P. Brennan, I. Fairweather*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


While the influence of temperature and moisture on the free-living stages of gastrointestinal nematodes have been described in detail, and evidence for global climate change is mounting, there have been only a few attempts to relate altered incidence or seasonal patterns of disease to climate change. Studies of this type have been completed for England Scotland and Wales, but not for Northern Ireland (NI). Here we present an analysis of veterinary diagnostic data that relates three categories of gastrointestinal nematode infection in sheep to historical meteorological data for NI. The infections are: trichostrongylosis/teladorsagiosis (Teladorsagia/Trichostrongylus), strongyloidosis and nematodirosis. This study aims to provide a baseline for future climate change analyses and to provide basic information for the development of nematode control programmes. After identifying and evaluating possible sources of bias, climate change was found to be the most likely explanation for the observed patterns of change in parasite epidemiology, although other hypotheses could not be refuted. Seasonal rates of diagnosis showed a uniform year-round distribution for Teladorsagia and Trichostrongylus infections, suggesting consistent levels of larval survival throughout the year and extension of the traditionally expected seasonal transmission windows. Nematodirosis showed a higher level of autumn than Spring infection, suggesting that suitable conditions for egg and larval development occurred after the Spring infection period. Differences between regions within the Province were shown for strongyloidosis, with peaks of infection falling in the period September-November. For all three-infection categories (trichostrongylosis/teladorsagiosis, strongyloidosis and nematodirosis), significant differences in the rates of diagnosis, and in the seasonality of disease, were identified between regions. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-177
Number of pages11
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2012


  • Sheep
  • Climate change
  • Northern Ireland
  • Gastrointestinal nematode infection
  • Anthelmintic resistance
  • Epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)

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