Worms and Working Dogs

Worms and Working Dogs



Sheep Measles is the common name given to lesions in sheep and goats caused by an “intermediate stage” of a tapeworm parasite. The “primary stage” of the parasite is a tapeworm (Taenia ovis) which infects the intestine of dogs.

Sheep Measles is commonly seen as hard white cysts either on the surface or deep in muscle tissue of sheep or goats. This poses no risk to human health, but blemishes in sheep meat result in downgrading or in extreme cases condemning of the carcasses.

The Sheep Measles tapeworm matures in approximately 35 days, so dogs need to be dosed every month to ensure no tapeworms present in dogs reach maturity. All pet dogs such as Fox Terriers, Labradors, even Percy the pug, should be included in the farm dosing programme, often they have free run of the property and have access to household scraps. Ask any people with visiting dogs to treat their dogs for sheep measles within a month or at least 48 hours prior to coming onto the property e.g. Contractors, musterers, hunters, or duck shooters. Pet cats do not carry Sheep Measles, but still require routine worming for good health at least every 3 months with Drontal – we can post this out with the dogs’ tablets.



Hydatid is the cystic, larval stage of the tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus, Hydatid has a lifecycle similar to that of sheep measles: hydatid is found in farm livestock (including sheep) and even humans, while the adult tapeworm occurs in dogs (the parasite’s primary host). Unlike, sheep measles, hydatid is a public health issue, which can cause illness and occasionally death.

Dogs are infected by eating offal from infected livestock. The parasite needs to infect dogs to complete its lifecycle and reproduce. Due to the public health risk, NZ undertook nearly 50 years of concerted efforts through offal feeding rules and dog worming practices to eradicate Hydatid disease and in 2002 MPI declared New Zealand ‘provisionally free’ from hydatids. We still use rules around feeding offal to dogs to help prevent the parasites re-establishing in NZ from imported livestock.


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