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Use of abattoir-derived information to inform farm level parasite control

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  • Full or part time
    Prof N Sargison
    Dr M Bronsvoort
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Trematode and cestode parasites induce macroscopic lesions in their final and intermediate hosts, which are identifiable during abattoir meat inspection. We have validated the sensitivities and specificities of these findings for the diagnosis of fasciolosis in cattle at different levels of disease prevalence. We have used this information to show the production impact of disease and provided proof of concept for its application towards better epidemiological understanding. Our bioinformatics and statistical methods can be applied to study a range of production limiting and zoonotic fluke and tapeworm parasites in different agricultural systems.

We have a database linking meat inspection findings to batches of lambs identified to origin of consignment and to individually traceable cattle. Electronic information systems allow these data to be analysed within the context of relevant animal and disease management. Seasonal trends in disease prevalence in sheep can be related to environmental, climatic and management factors, describing current risks. Cattle meat inspection data allow for greater detail in the analysis of complex interacting risk factors. Abattoir information provides a unique opportunity for the development of disease surveillance and iterative decision support tools.


Describe the changing epidemiology of fasciolosis and identify disease risk factors.
Build upon a decision support system for farm-level control of fasciolosis.
Characterise the impact of potential interactions between flukes and roundworms on animal production.
Define the changing prevalence and identify definitive hosts of cestode parasites causing offal rejections.

The prospective study will involve working with Scotland’s largest red meat abattoir to quantify offal rejections and associated farm level factors, improve surveillance tools, and develop a farmer interface to inform the impact and control of parasitic diseases. The work will be a platform for case control studies, clinical parasitological disease investigation and use of molecular diagnostic and phylogenetic methods.

Applications including a statement of interest and full CV with names and addresses (including email addresses) of two academic referees, should be sent to: Liz Archibald, The Roslin Institute, The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, Midlothian, EH25 9RG or emailed to [Email Address Removed].

When applying for the studentship please state clearly the title of the studentship and the supervisor/s in your covering letter.

All applicants should also apply through the University’s on-line application system for September 2016 entry via

International students should also apply for an Edinburgh Global Research Studentship (



Mazeri, S., Sargison, N.D., Kelly, R.F., Bronsvoort, M. and Handel, I. Evaluation of the performance of five diagnostic tests for Fasciola hepatica infection in naturally infected cattle using a Bayesian no gold standard approach. (submitted to PLoS ONE and addressing reviewers’ comments)

Sargison, N.D., Francis, E., Davison, C., Bronsvoort, Barend M de C., Handel, I., Mazeri, S. Observations on the biology, epidemiology and economic importance of rumen flukes (Paramphistomidae) in cattle kept in a temperate environment. (Submitted to Veterinary Parasitology and reviewers’ comments addressed)

We are currently writing papers describing the use of abattoir data to show the production impact of fasciolosis in finishing beef cattle and to describe changing epidemiological trends in F. hepatica infection. We are working on the development of molecular tools for the diagnosis and phylogenetic study of Taenia spp. tapeworms.

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