Being an applied science, Veterinary Science builds on the foundations laid by the basic sciences. Parasitology has a strong interface with Zoology, the end result for the veterinarian being th control of parasites of domestic animals. The incidence of parasitism is difficult to assess, as many factors are involved, but the economic impact of various livestock parasites has been calculated. There are two components: direct losses due to mortalities and the costs of treatment and prevention.
Traditionally, parasite control was aimed at infected animals and the "dip and dose" aproach is well-entrenched. This aproach may well break down, as many parasites are becoming resistant to parasiticides. Alternative, environment-friendly control strategies are aimed at reducing exposure to infective stages of parasites and increasing the resistance of the host. To reduce exposure, the life cycle of the parasite and the ecology of the free-living stages must be elucidated. Increasing host resistance has two facets: the short-term approach is developing vaccines against parasites, while the long-term approach is breeding resistant livestock.
What are the implications of this approach for veterinary education? Students will have to understand basic principles. Relying on memorised ad hoc dipping or dosing regiments will be insufficient to accommodate changes in the manifestations of or approach to the problem: the most practical education is in fact the most theoretical one.
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