Research

Ingenious parasites

Parasites are among the most widespread infectious agents in humans and animals, including livestock and companion animals. The great diversity of parasites is associated with complex life cycles, constantly evolving epidemiological situations and the resulting diseases need reliable control strategies.

Veterinary Parasitology, companion animals

A wide array of parasites can infect dogs and cats. These include ectoparasites such as ticks and fleas, and endoparasites such as unicellular protozoa (e.g. Giardia sp., Cystoisospora sp., Toxoplasma gondii, Tritrichomonas foetus and many others) and helminths, commonly called “worms”.

We focus our research on the most important groups of worms of companion animals, both intestinal and non-intestinal. Emphasis is given to lungworms of dogs and cats, where we have been investigating the pathogenesis, risk factors,the onset of clinical signs, and for which we developed new diagnostic tools. These tests are used on individual basis as well as for epidemiological studies, contributing to a better knowledge of the occurrence of lungworms. They also improve the detection and follow-up of infected animals and support appropriate treatment and management of the infections. Further relevant research topics result from the daily contact with veterinary practitioners, animal owners and researchers at the faculty of veterinary medicine in Zurich and other institutions at both national and international level. These interactions allow us research based teaching with practical relevance. We also aim to provide up-to-date scientific information and promote good practice for the control and treatment of parasites of companion animals (see also www.esccap.ch), in order to minimise the risk of diseases and parasitic transmission between animals and humans.

Veterinary Parasitology, ruminants and horses

Current work in equine helminthology is directed towards a reorientation of helminth control in adult and young horses. This approach is mainly driven by the alarming increase of anthelmintic resistance worldwide. Whereas in the adult horses a reliable strategy to minimize the use of anthelmintic drugs has already been established, a comparable, epidemiologically based approach in horses younger than 4 years is still in progress.

In small ruminants current projects are embedded in international cooperations focusing on the consequences of climatic change on the epidemiology of helminth infections and their economic consequences.