Leading sheep parasitologist draws curtains on long career

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 8.41.37 AMAustralia’s leading sheep parasitologist, Dr Brown Besier, is drawing the curtain on a 47-year career which has delivered the industry major breakthroughs in the management of worms.

Dr Besier, Principal Veterinary Parasitologist at the Department of Agriculture and Food WA, was instrumental in the development and introduction in 2014 of the Barbervax vaccine to Australia, as well as a new ‘targeted treatment’ approach to worm control.

Dr Besier was also a member of the Sheep CRC’s executive and led its parasite control program for more than a decade, driving the establishment of the popular WormBoss and ParaBoss websites.

ParaBoss Executive Officer Dr Lewis Kahn said the Barbervax breakthrough, in collaboration with the Moredun Institute in Scotland, was a “massive contribution” to the industry in Australia and around the world.

“Barbervax is the first vaccine for gut-dwelling round worm control brought to market in the world, even though people have been trying for decades,” Dr Kahn said. “The vaccine has provided barber’s pole control to endemic areas and has been particularly useful in areas where there’s been entrenched drench resistance.”

Dr Kahn said Dr Besier had also changed the way farmers approach worm control, both in Australia and around the world. His ‘targeted treatment’ approach features drenching of only those animals most susceptible to worms in order to slow the development of drench resistance.

Chief executive of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), James Rowe, said the full benefit of targeted treatment may not be fully realised for some time, with many of Dr Besier’s ideas ahead of their time.

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