15th July 2019
The Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) group is highlighting recent guidance issued by the Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority (AMTRA) and supported by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) on not using organophosphate (OP) products in jetters and showers.
Lesley Stubbings of SCOPS explains: “There are no veterinary products licenced in the UK for use through jetters or showers. This use has gone widely unchallenged in the past but the hurdles we face in controlling sheep scab are now so great that SCOPS has welcomed and is highlighting the importance of following this recently released guidance.
“We already know some sheep scab mites are resistant to the injectable products, which means it is more important than ever to preserve the efficacy of the organophosphate dips. Exposing scab mites to a sub-lethal dose of OP in jetters and showers is an ideal way to encourage resistance to develop and we cannot afford to continue taking that risk.
“Plunge dipping is the only way to get the OP down to the skin so it can kill all the mites. Showers and jetters simply cannot achieve that so, if you use one of these methods, all the industry bodies involved in SCOPS are united in urging you to stop.”
To highlight the complex situation around sheep scab, SCOPS has strengthened the information provided at www.scops.org.uk/external-parasites/scab. Also on the website is the official letter sent from AMTRA warning prescribers that they risk facing disciplinary action and/or being reported to VMD if they prescribe OP to anyone using it through a jetter or shower.
National Sheep Association is one of several industry bodies involved in SCOPS. Its Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “This tough line on jetters and showers has not been taken lightly. We know farmers and contractors have invested heavily in such equipment; historically they have even been incentivised by grants and loans to encourage their use, and it is very frustrating to be told they should no longer be used. But we cannot emphasise enough how important it is to protect the efficacy of OP dips, which are just not suitable for use in jetters and showers. While our focus is on scab and OPs, sub-lethal doses of any product via a jetter or shower, for any kind of external parasite, are of equal concern.
“I know that abandoning what has long been seen as a useful tool in our armoury, walking away from equipment we were previously encouraging the use of, will anger a lot of farmers and contractors. But NSA and others would not take this hard line if we did not believe the new advice was scientifically sound and absolutely crucial to our future fight against scab.”
To try and address the main questions sheep farmers have about scab, SCOPS is seeking to understand the top issues people involved in the UK sheep sector would like answers to. At www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SCOPSscab, individuals can select their ‘top 10’ from a list, so SCOPS can answer these over the coming months, reducing confusion and improving sheep scab control.
Notes to editors