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Hares pose threat to sheep health, study finds

Feral hares are major carriers of sheep worms and may be spreading resistance to the products used to control these economically costly parasites, according to University of Adelaide research.

The study, led by senior veterinary lecturer Philip Stott, found the common sheep worm Trichostrongylus colubriformis in the intestines of 40 per cent of feral European hares caught at three survey locations in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. The study’s findings are published in the journal Veterinary Parasitology.

According the journal abstract, the UA researchers analysed the worm content of the gastrointestinal tracts of 88 rabbits and 110 hares. They found sheep worms were far more common in hares than rabbits, with 79 per cent of hares infested with the worms compared to only 9 per cent of rabbits.

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