Moredun launches Barbervax - a vaccine for Barbers Pole Worm
Scientists at Moredun, led by Dr David Smith, have successfully developed a vaccine for the Barber's Pole Worm (Haemonchus contortus), the most important roundworm parasite of sheep and goats in the world.
Barbers Pole Worm is a voracious blood sucker causing anaemia which can readily become fatal. Fortunately for UK farmers it prefers warmer conditions and so is only a sporadic problem, but in parts of Australia, South Africa and South America it presents a real difficulty for commercial sheep farmers, compounded by the fact that strains resistant to anthelmintic drugs are common and widespread.
Barbervax ®, the first vaccine in the world for a worm parasite of sheep and a revolutionary new tool for farmers to combat Barbers Pole was registered for use in Australia in early October 2014. The first batch of vaccine, consisting 300,000 doses, was all sold within 10 days just by word of mouth.
The basis for Barbervax was devised after many years of research at Moredun and commercialised during the last five years through a collaboration with the Albany laboratory of the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, where it is made by Wormvax Australia, a subsidiary of Moredun.
Barbervax was trialled extensively in Australian Merinos over the last three summers with good results. Mathematical modelling indicates that the degree by which the vaccine reduces worm egg output and hence pasture contamination offers a level of control superior to a conventional anthelmintic programme
Barbervax is sold in 250ml packs like those used for Clostridial vaccines. The dose per sheep is 1ml injected under the skin, irrespective of body weight. It can be given at the same time as other vaccines (though at a different injection site), drenches and remedies.
Barbervax is safe for young lambs and heavily pregnant ewes alike. It should be stored refrigerated but not frozen and has a shelf life of at least 2 years.
Barbervax works against all Barbers Pole worms including drench resistant ones. It offers a more sustainable form of control, because it is extremely unlikely that vaccine resistant worms will develop. Using Barbervax will reduce the need to use those drenches which are still effective on a particular farm, therefore prolonging their life.
Barbervax contains tiny amounts of protein purified from the lining of Barbers Pole intestines. Like all vaccines, it works by stimulating the natural immune response in the animal after injection. The antibodies produced circulate in the sheep’s blood, so that the parasites drink antibodies with their blood meal. These antibodies attach to the lining of the Barbers Pole intestine, blocking digestion and starving the worm so that it produces far fewer eggs and dies.
Sections of Barbers Pole worm obtained from a sheep vaccinated with Barbervax. Antibodies stained yellowish green have attached to the lining of the worm intestines
Barbervax does not protect against scour worms. They will have to be controlled by drenching, maybe once or twice at strategic times during the Australian summer. Monitoring egg counts, including identifying the type of worms and their drench resistant status is strongly recommended.
Please visit www.barbervax.com.au for further information.
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