Back to R&D main

The potential for vaccines against gastrointestinal nematodes of small ruminants

Did you know that research has pinpointed the knowledge required to develop an effective and efficient scour-worm vaccine?

Project start date: 01 July 2018
Project end date: 28 March 2019
Publication date: 26 June 2019
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Sheep, Lamb
Relevant regions: National
Download Report (1.7 MB)


​Each year, gastrointestinal roundworms cost the Australian sheep and goat industries approximately $450 million through lost production and the cost of treatments. Wide spread resistance of the parasites to chemical treatments also hinders management options.

This project reviewed past and current research investments into vaccines addressing scour-worms, to identify and reduce production losses in the livestock industry and maintain capacity and capability in parasitological research.

This review found that the inability of past research to deliver reliable and effective scour-worm vaccines is due to gaps in knowledge regarding the host-parasite interaction, the definition of an optimal group of parasite antigens and the effective creation and administration of ruminant vaccines.


This project aimed to evaluate innovative solutions and novel technologies on scour-worm vaccines to provide reasons for why an effective and efficient vaccine has still not been developed.

Key findings

Although an effective vaccine against the blood-sucking Barber’s Pole Worm has been successfully commercialised, two key problems hinder the development of a scour-worm vaccine:

  • the type of molecule to use in the vaccine
  • how to stimulate an immune response that is targeted to the specific site where the worms live.

Genetic analysis of the parasitic stages of the key species will help control scour worms with vaccines.

Benefits to industry

A scour worm vaccine will improve internal parasite management and increase producer productivity and profitability. The consequent reduction in scours, dags and blowfly strike risk would provide a major additional incentive for vaccination.

MLA action

Until a scour-worm vaccine is identified as a priority during the producer consultation process, no further action is proposed for the immediate future.

Future research

This review proposes several recommendations to create a staged vaccination approach over 5-10 years, which can form an integrated research program to combat scour-worms.

More information

Contact email:
Primary researcher: University of Sydney