DIY Worm Egg Counting; new lice test; SCAHLS – Dx Tests (Worms)

WormMail mailing list (recip. undisclosed)  (wormmail 200905281500)

Gear for DIY Worm Egg Counting

I get a number of inquiries from people who have already learnt how to do their own worm egg counts, but need to source equipment.

Below is information prepared (Feb. ’08) by Anne Oakenful (QA Manager, Elizabeth Macarthur Institute) as part of the manual NSW DPI’s ‘Faecal Egg Counting Course’

I have also added information from J Sewell who supplies microscopes and other equipment, and who kindly provided demonstration models at the FEC Courses I co-presented with Vicki Bordin in March and May.

One course participant said ‘Microscopes Australia’ is also worth checking.

Listing a supplier does not imply endorsement by DPI: we are merely providing some possibilities for you to check.

By the way, plans are afoot to run more of these courses in various parts of the state. I will endeavour to let you know when they are coming up.

Microscope slides
The Whitlock universal slide is specifically designed for parasite detection in large and small animals. They usually start at around $120.00 a slide but they are glass sides and do last a long time if looked after.

Whitlock Universal slides are available from:
JA Whitlock & Co
PO Box 51
Eastwood NSW 2122
Ph 02 96381142
Web site:

There are a number of different sources of microscopes. Prices range depending on the quality.

The basic requirements for faecal egg counts are:
Compound Microscope with 40x – 100x magnification (10x eyepiece with 4x and 10x objectives)
Binocular eye pieces (monocular can be used however it can cause eye strain if doing multiple samples)
Mechanical stage
Power supply for lighting

The web is a good source of information on microscope products, prices and suppliers.
Most laboratory suppliers have a microscope range that covers the basic needs required for egg counts. eg

Science Education Online
email: fax: 02 6946 4412 postal: PO Box 28, Adelong NSW 2729

Microscopes Australia

There are a number of overseas company’s that do freight to Australia. Some of their microscopes are cheaper and they do offer warranty. eg

EBAY occasionally have microscopes on sale and can be worth looking at from time to time to see what’s available.

Battery hydrometers for checking specific gravity of salt solutions are readily available at most hardware stores, car spare parts stores etc. They are relatively cheap at around $10 and are a good investment to ensure that all salt solutions are at the required specific gravity to float parasite eggs for detection.


SCAHLS – Standard Diagnostic Procedures – another good resource

The SCAHLS site is another good resource.

Of relevance to this newsletter is the current ‘ASDT’ for Anthelmintic resistance, written by Maxine Lyndal-Murphy (1993) of the Qld DPI. This contains good information.

This ‘ASDT’ will be updated/replaced soon by an ‘ANZDSP’ (have you got all the acronyms worked out) written by Gareth Hutchinson, formerly of NSW DPI, and James Cook University.

The title: Nematode Parasites of Small Ruminants, Camelids and Cattle – Diagnosis with Emphasis on Anthelmintic Efficacy and Resistance Testing’

I have seen a final draft of this document and I think it will be a valuable resource, even for those not doing any lab testing.

Hopefully this will be published on the SCAHLS website within the next few months. (It’s a bit sad when you get excited by the prospect of new publication on worms).


New lice test

OK, this is ‘ecto’ rather than ‘endo’, but it is great to see this test now seeing the light of day. (Ectos are the province of Gemma Junk, the NSW DPI Ectoparasite Coordinator, but I am sure she will let this one pass).

Here is the NSW DPI news release :

Lousy sheep no more – clean combs and cutters key to new lice test – 28 May 2009

A sensitive new test that can diagnose lice infestations at shearing will be available for wool producers from July, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) said today.

NSW DPI researchers who developed the laboratory test believe it will be highly economical and give producers confidence not to dip or backline as a precaution.

“The test could be used as part of management strategy to eradicate lice from properties and/or reduce chemical usage and hence residues in wool,” NSW DPI’s Paul Young said.

“The test uses washings from the cleaning of shearers’ combs and cutters.

“The washings detect protein from chopped up lice, trapped in grease accumulated on the combs and cutters as lousy sheep are shorn.”

The laboratory test is the culmination of many years’ financial investment and co-operative research between NSW DPI, Australian Wool Innovation and CSIRO Livestock Industries.

To be run at NSW DPI’s Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI), Camden, the test is based on ELISA technology.

The EMAI team says the test can pay for itself many times over if producers choose not to dip, or back-line sheep that previously would have been treated “just in case they had lice”.

The test uses samples submitted by or on behalf of producers.

“Proper sample collection is absolutely essential and unless done correctly will invalidate the test results,” Mr Young, said.

“The kit’s information sheet provides detailed instructions for correct sample collection.

“Because of the sensitivity of the test it stipulates all the combs and cutters must be scrupulously clean before use.

“A ‘one sample’ kit may be used to collect a single sample from the shearing of a mob of up to 250 sheep.

“If a mob contains more than 250 sheep, more than one sample should be collected.

Any number of sample bottles can be provided on request.

“To ensure detection of low-level infestations of lice, all combs and cutters used to shear the mob of interest must be washed using the materials provided.”

The EMAI team advises producers not to be tempted to sample only some of the mob.

“Sometimes only a few sheep in a mob may be infested,” NSW DPI technical officer, Narelle Sales, said.

“Unless all the comb and cutter washings from the shearing of all of the sheep are included, the samples submitted to the laboratory may not contain any lice protein and the test result would be incorrectly interpreted.”

Further reading

From the June 2009 edition of Agriculture Today: Skip the dip


new lice test

Lousy sheep no more – clean combs and cutters key to new lice test

28 May 2009

A sensitive new test that can diagnose lice infestations at shearing will be available for wool producers from July, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) said today.

More information

Theileria, coccidia, LHPAs etc

[wormmail 200905271700]

This WormMail is about very small internal parasites, protozoa

Firstly, theileriosis in cattle (Bailey et al), then coccidia (Cook LG).

Theileriosis – an emerging disease problem?
by Drs Graham Bailey, Patrick Staples, Paul Freeman and Marilyn Evers

First published in ‘Boardtalk’, Issue 30; May 2009, Newsletter of the Veterinary Practitioners Board of NSW. Republished here with permission of VPB and G Bailey.


A specific project will cover lab charges for the investigation of suspect cases of theileriosis (testing to confirm /exclude Theileria as detailed below)

The samples needed for Theileria investigation are blood (clotted and EDTA), fresh blood smears and standard autopsy samples if PM sampling

Epidemiological information (cases, duration, ticks, property introductions etc) is needed on the specimen advice


In 2008 there was an increase in the number of outbreaks of theileriosis in NSW, due to infection by the protozoan parasite, Theileria buffeli. T. buffeli is part of the Theileria buffeli/sergenti/orientalis group. This group is regarded as benign when compared to T. parva (east coast fever) and T. annulata (mediterranean fever) – highly pathogenic strains that are exotic to Australia.

The reason for the increased number of outbreaks is unknown and is being investigated. It is possible that differing pathogenicity of strains as demonstrated by Japanese veterinarians is responsible.

We are providing the following information to veterinary practitioners to increase awareness of the disease and to provide a guide for investigation and diagnosis of outbreaks. NSW DPI is encouraging veterinarians to submit samples to its veterinary laboratory at Menangle to investigate suspect cases.

Charges for tests to confirm/exclude theileriosis will be paid by NSW DPI under its “Better understanding of theileriosis in NSW cattle herds” project. Charges for other tests will be as normal – that is, paid for by the submitter unless there is an existing project which would pay all/part of test charges.

Clinical signs

Clinical signs are those associated with severe anaemia and include: lethargy, inappetence, exercise intolerance, tachycardia, tachypnoea, pale to jaundiced mucous membranes, transient pyrexia, abortions, and in dairy cows a drop in milk production. No visual evidence of haemoglobinuria though on occasions urinary dipstick positive. Mortality rate is highest in heavily pregnant cows. Cases have been noted in all age groups.

Postmortem findings

Commonly see jaundice of carcase, in particular the liver may appear yellow.

Diagnostic aids

Severe regenerative anaemia, blood smear examination reveals Theileria piroplasms within erythrocytes, and hyperbilirubinaemia. There is often elevated GLDH, GGT and AST associated with anoxic liver damage. Fibrinogen levels are generally normal. Theileria infection may be seen as an incidental finding, so other causes of haemolytic anaemia should also be considered and excluded where necessary.

Differential diagnoses for haemolytic anaemia

Differentials include: Brassica poisoning (kale anaemia), tick fever (babesiosis and anaplasmosis which are notifiable diseases in NSW), bacillary haemoglobinuria (Clostridium haemolyticum), leptospirosis in calves, post-parturient haemoglobinuria (hypophosphataemia), chronic copper toxicity (mainly in sheep, rare in cattle). Other differentials exist but are less common.

Submission of specimens to the Veterinary Laboratory at Menangle

Complete a Laboratory Submission form (hard copies available from EMAI or can be downloaded from

Document whether or not there were any cattle introductions to the property in the last 3 months, including where the introduced cattle came from. PIC and/or owner name, property address and town of origin are preferred. If this is not available, as a minimum, the town is required. If cattle were introduced, record whether introduced cattle/home-bred cattle/both are affected.

Examine the affected mob for ticks, recording whether or not any ticks were seen. If ticks are found submit them for identification. Ticks are best preserved by placing in a small container of alcohol.

Veterinarians investigating a cattle production problem or disease that fits the suspect theileriosis case definition are requested to sample up to 5 affected animals and if present, up to 5 in-contact but healthy animals. If one or more affected animals are freshly dead, collect samples as per an autopsy ensuring that fixed liver and a fresh spleen or liver sample (held for subsequent PCR testing) are submitted.

Submit EDTA bloods and smears from affected cattle for haematology. Blood smears should be made at the time of sampling using clean dry slides. Distinguishing piroplasms becomes more difficult in smears made from stored EDTA blood. The numbers of Theileria piroplasms seen within erythrocytes is highly variable, depending on the stage of the disease. EDTA bloods will be retained by the laboratory for possible PCR testing (not routinely available).

Submit clotted blood. Sera will be retained by the laboratory for serology (not routinely available).

Submit other samples as required for differential diagnosis.

Testing to be performed

On receipt of samples, a PCV will be performed on EDTA blood and smears (either supplied or made in the laboratory), stained and examined. Additional tests eg full blood count, biochemistry will be at the job manager’s discretion. If submitted, ticks will be identified. The cost of these tests will be paid by NSW DPI provided instructions regarding submission of samples are followed.

If one or more affected animals have died and post mortem(s) are performed, testing of EDTA blood from live animals and ticks from any animal will be paid by NSW DPI. Testing of samples from dead animals or samples to exclude other than notifiable diseases, will be charged according to the normal guidelines.

Case Definition

For the purposes of the “Better understanding of theileriosis in NSW cattle herds” project, the following case definition applies.

Suspect theileriosis:

cattle in NSW with clinical evidence of severe anaemia (with associated signs), and

case occurs between 1 May 2009 and 30 June 2010, and

clinical examination and history fails to detect any other obvious cause of the anaemia, or other causes have been excluded.

Further Information

For further information contact Graham Bailey 02 63913870 or

Theileriosis – other articles

* Articles may be on Flockandherd when the proceedings of the 2009 District Veterinarians are posted on the site

* ‘Cattle disease more serious’

* ‘Theiliriosis in NSW’ – Paul Freeman. Animal Health Surveillance NSW – Jan/March 2009; 2009/1

‘Killing’ coccodia

In the last issue of Boardtalk (May 2009) Dr Lee Cook made mention of his (revised) article giving information on treatment of coccidiosis in lambs and kids.

This document, primarily for registered veterinarians, was first published in Turning the Worm, Issue 24, December 2004. –

Toltrazuril (‘Baycox’), Bayer’s cattle coccidiocide, is now registered and available for use in calves. (It’s also registered in Europe for use in sheep as ‘Baycox Ovis’).

In defence of LHPAs

Something positive, just for a change. An article by A/Prof. Peter Windsor written for ‘Vet Talk’, The Land newspaper, 30 March 2009.

Windsor P- More at stake than rate rises [LHPAs]-Vet Talk The Land 20090330.pdf

(Perhaps I am biased: After starting off in private practice, I was a District Veterinarian (Coonamble/Walgett; Glen Innes/Inverell; Armidale) from 1978-1986 🙂


Swine flu transmission mystery solved

Submitted by a British veterinary colleague working in USA (perhaps frustrated by suppression of his humour genes)

Extreme shepherding

(You may have seen this before)

LHPA logo

The new LHPA logo (for the New England LPHA at least) in case you have not seen it before:

LHPA / Rural Lands Protection Board /Pastures Protection Board history

I am sure someone has written a history of ‘PP Boards’ somewhere. Perhaps the likes of Dr Peter Mylrea?

If memory serves, PPB Boards kicked off as a result of sheep scab (Psoroptes ovis), and predate pre-date the Department of Agriculture, which I think (don’t quote me) was a branch within the NSW Department of Mines (late C.19). ‘Scab’ districts were set up in the 19th century to deal with sheep scab. There were locally elected ‘scab’ directors’, and they had an Inspector of Stock. I don’t know if scab labour was used.

I recall reading that if these Directors were found to have sheep scab (their sheep at least), they got ‘unelected’. Being a Victorian, Ned Kelly was never a ‘Scab’ Director.

Later, in C.20, there was a requirement for these Inspectors of Stock to be veterinarians, and the name subsequently changed to ‘Veterinary Inspector’ and later still to ‘District Veterinarians’. Some of the vets I have most respected are or were District Veterinarians/Veterinary Inspectors, whatever the public image.

Australia successfully eradicated sheep scab*: I believe the UK still has it. 🙂

*NSW – 1869; SA – 1871; QLD – 1873; Vic – 1875, Tas (a late starter) – 1881, WA 1896. Diseases of Domestic Animals in Australia, HR Seddon, revised by HE Albiston 1968; Commonwealth of Australia

Some links: NSW DPI Internal Parasites page (‘Worms on the Web’) // WormFax // Turning the Worm newsletter // Cattle worm control // WormBoss // Subscribe to WormBoss News // Biosecurity (NSW DPI) // Vet Lab Manual (NSW DPI) // WormMail – subscribe

Closure of Wollongbar and Orange Regional Vet Labs

[From WormMail 200905201200]

A copy of a recent fax from RVL Orange is pasted below for the information of WormMail recipients.

Vet lab closure fax smallest

The Armidale and Wagga labs were closed in 1996. The closure of the remaining two country-based NSW DPI labs – Wollongbar and Orange – will be completed by 30 June, as outlined above.

The Armidale Lab – in which I had the privilege of working from 1986 to 1996 – was the first country-based government veterinary laboratory in Australia – if one excludes the lab based in the city of Townsville. RVL Armidale, also known as the Colin Blumer laboratory, was established in the mid 1960s under the oversight of its first OIC, Dr ARB Jackson. Until then, the only NSW government vet lab services were located at Glenfield, since transferred to EMAI at Camden/Menangle, in south west Sydney.

RVL Orange was the last of the NSW country based labs to be established, under the leadership of Dr Ray Webb, who transferred from RVL Armidale, which was located on the site (Trevenna Rd., University of New England) now occupied by the private lab operated by Veterinary Health Research (Dr Bruce Chick and others).

As intimated by Dr Boulton, the Veterinary Laboratory located at EMAI has excellent staff who will continue to provide good service to primary producers, veterinarians and others in NSW.

For information on submitting samples to the lab, please see the link (DPI website) to the Vet Lab Manual, or ring the numbers provided above.

For information on some parasitology services, including prices, please also see the Primefact on lab tests for worms at

Faecal worm egg counting courses – upcoming

(Sent  to WormMail mailing list (recip. undisclosed) [wormmail 200905141300]  )

Recent FEC Courses at Tamworth

Vicki Bordin (RVL Wollongbar) and I have just finished conducting our second lot of two one-day ‘Faecal worm egg counting courses’ at Tamworth Agricultural Institute. (We conducted two one-day courses in March, and also two courses this week: 12th and 13th May).

It has been excellent having Vicki – with her experience as a Technical Officer – being available to co-present these courses, but she will not be available soon due to the centralisation of NSW DPI vet lab services to EMAI by 30 June (which means the closure of the Regional Vet Labs at Wollongbar (North Coast) and Orange (Central West)).

Upcoming FEC Courses

I just noted there are few of these courses coming up, all at Camden (Elizabeth Macarthur Agric. Institute-EMAI):

 Further information:; Maryke Archbold-Hession

This includes learning how to do egg counts for roundworms (barber’s pole worm, small brown stomach worm, thin-necked intestinal worm etc) and other eggs that will float in the solution used in the standard method used in labs (Modified McMaster Technique) – including tapeworms and coccidial oocysts. It does not include larval differentiation (‘worm-typing’) or fluke egg counts. (Fluke eggs are relatively dense and so do not float in saturated salt solution (SG = 1.20): a sedimentation technique is used in labs for fluke egg counts.).

FEC Courses in your area?

In publicising these courses, I have had feedback from WormMail recipients and others requesting a course in their area… eg Braidwood, Young, Deniliquin etc. The best approach I think would be to register your interest with Maryke Archbold-Hession (see details above).


NSW DPI now has 17 courses approved for the FarmReady Reimbursement Grant (see below).  (As yet this does not include the FEC Course, but moves are afoot to get this course included).

    PMP for natural resource management;  Farm planning;  TopFodder silage; Prograze; Prograze Abridged;  Beef N omics; Waterwise on farm; Irrigated Lucerne for Profit; Identification and management of native grass pastures; Farming in a changing climate; Conservation Farming; LANDSCAN; Centre Pivot lateral Move; Healthy soils, healthy landscapes; Farmers guide to managing climate risk; Tactical Grazing in semi-arid rangelands; Introduction to Environmental management systems in agriculture.

Coming Soon

Nifty posters from Novartis


Stephen Love

Veterinarian/State Coordinator-Internal Parasites,

NSW DPI – Armidale District Office


NSW DPI – internal parasites (‘Worms on the Web’)  

Cattle worm control

Goat worm control*

* The general principles of sheep worm control are applicable to goats

Sheep worm control

Turning the Worm newsletter

WormFax (monthly)

WormMail – subscribe /unsubscribe

Health – links to various

NSW DPI – other

Animal Health Surveillance Newsletter

Bioscecurity Newsletter

NSW DPI News – subscribe

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‘Boss’ Websites


WormBoss News – subscribe