A survey was carried out in the first part of the project (work package 1) to assess biosecurity measures, grazing practices, drinking water issues, and the perception on the distribution of internal parasites among sheep farmers. The survey was sent to the sheep farmers between November 10th and December 20th, 2022, and 226 sheep farmers responded anonymously. Half of the respondents reported keeping sheep as a hobby, while only a quarter reported it as a full-time source of income. On several farms, travelers, visitors, or tourists come into contact with the sheep. Only about one-fifth of the respondents reported using quarantine measures is the sheep farms. The measures include the exchange of outerwear for protective overalls and rubber shoes, as well as the possibility of hand washing before and after visiting animal facilities. Disease control plays an important role in reducing the risk of infection, and its absence creates a higher risk for the spread of zoonoses in humans and animals.
You can read more about the results in the Lammas ja vuohi magazine (4/2023, in Finnish). Additionally, the Licentiate thesis in Veterinary Medicine will be published later in the Fall, providing a more comprehensive discussion of the survey and its’ findings. The thesis will also include a literature review on the life cycles, prevalence, and infection control measures of the liver flukes Fasciola hepatica and Dicrocoelium dendriticum in pasturing sheep.
In Work Package 2 of the LAMMASLAIDUN project, we are collecting more information about the prevalence of zoonotic diseases in Finnish slaughtered sheep. Fecal samples have been collected at the slaughter houses since the beginning of 2023, and sampling will continue until the end of 2023.
Work package 3 collects additional information on the occurrence of zoonoses in the aquatic environments at the sheep farms and in animals of different ages. The samples are collected four times a year. So far, three farm sampling rounds have been carried out in the Work Package 3, during which fecal samples, as well as water and bottom sediment samples have been collected. The last sampling round will take place in November. The project aims to produce information on the zoonotic health risks and their management at sheep farms in Finland.
Project web page (In finnish): https://www.ruokavirasto.fi/teemat/tieteellinen-tutkimus/tutkimushankkeet/kaynnissa/ihmisten-elainten-ja-kasvien-terveys-ja-hyvinvointi/elainten-vaikutus-ihmisten-terveyteen/lammaslaitumien-zoonoosit/.
Eeva Mustonen, Clinical Teacher, University of Helsinki, Department of Production Animal Medicine firstname.lastname@example.org (good grazing practices)
Tarja Pohjanvirta, Head of Section, Finnish Food Authority, Animal Disease Research Unit email@example.com (zoonoses in slaughter sheep)
Rauni Kivistö, Docent, University of Helsinki, Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health firstname.lastname@example.org (zoonoses of sheep pastures)
Tarja Pitkänen, Associate Professor (second term), University of Helsinki, Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health, email@example.com (LammasLaidun consortium study)