U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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U.S. Government Works


Advances in Parasitology, Volume 93 ISSN 0065-308X http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/bs.apar.2016.02.023


Diagnosis is often equated with identification or detection when discussing parasitic diseases. Unfortunately, these are not necessarily mutually exclusive activities; diseases and infections are generally diagnosed and organisms are identified. Diagnosis is commonly predicated upon some clinical signs; in an effort to determine the causative agent, identification of genera and species is subsequently performed. Both identification and diagnosis play critical roles in managing an infection, and involve the interplay of direct and indirect methods of detection, particularly in light of the complex and expanding problem of drug-resistance in parasites. Accurate and authoritative identification that is cost- and time-effective, based on structural and molecular attributes of specimens, provides a foundation for defining parasite diversity and changing patterns of geographical distribution, host association and emergence of disease. Most techniques developed thus far have been grounded in assumptions based on strict host associations between Haemonchus contortus and small ruminants, that is, sheep and goats, and between Haemonchus placei and bovids. Current research and increasing empirical evidence of natural infections in the field demonstrates that this assumption misrepresents the host associations for these species of Haemonchus. Furthermore, the capacity of H. contortus to utilize a considerably broad spectrum of ungulate hosts is reflected in our understanding of the role of anthropogenic forcing, the ‘breakdown’ of ecological isolation, global introduction and host switching as determinants of dis- tribution. Nuanced insights about distribution, host association and epidemiology have emerged over the past 30 years, coincidently with the development of increasingly robust means for parasite identification. In this review and for the sake of argument, we would like to delineate the diagnosis of haemonchosis from the identification of the specific pathogen. As a foundation for exploring host and parasite biology, we will examine the evolution of methods for distinguishing H. contortus from other com- mon gastrointestinal nematodes of agriculturally significant and free-ranging wild ru- minants using morphological, molecular and/or immunological methods for studies at the species and genus levels