Dr Kerstin Junker
The project focuses on two main activities:
National Collection of Animal Helminths we conduct
Research on Helminth Taxonomy and Biodiversity to (i) enhance our understanding of host-parasite systems and (ii) increase our ability to diagnose and predict the spread of parasitic animal diseases in order to develop disease management strategies that will enhance the performance of both the livestock and wildlife industry.
We also render
Diagnostic Services to support rural livelihoods and integrated anthelmintic control strategies.
Dr Kerstin Junker (Curator);
Dr Andrea Spickett
The National Collection of Animal Helminths (NCAH) is an extensive reference collection of parasitic helminths of veterinary and zoological importance, providing a wide basis for taxonomic comparisons and large-scale systematic studies, with an emphasis on parasites of livestock and wildlife in southern Africa. Amongst numerous others, the NCAH contains type specimens of more than 200 species of nematodes, cestodes and trematodes.
Our research focuses mainly on morphological, taxonomic and systematic studies of zooparasitic nematodes and the study of helminth community ecology, to contribute, ultimately, to disease management and control in livestock and wildlife. All free-living animals have their own unique parasite assemblages. These parasites can have a significant impact on host ecology and play an important role in the regulation of host populations. Helminths of wildlife might not only affect their natural hosts but can have zoonotic potential as well. Studying the helminth communities of wildlife, their composition and processes that govern their specific patterns will allow us to assess the possible impact of helminth infections on their hosts and will provide the baseline data needed to protect and sustainably manage South Africa's amazing biodiversity. Creation of extensive data sets will eventually enable us to judge if helminths of wildlife are reservoir hosts for helminths of livestock and vice versa. This is especially critical as human expansion and resulting habitat loss lead to an ever-greater livestock-wildlife interphase.
Recent and current projects are:
Comparative analysis of the gastrointestinal helminth communities of selected taxa of southern African gamebirds
Helminth assemblages of small and large mammals in southern Africa
Gastrointestinal helminths of
Pentastomid parasites in South African wildlife
* Selected publications (pdf)
Ms Ellen F van Wijk; Mr M Daniel Chipana; Mr R Frans Masubelle;
Dr Kerstin Junker;
Dr Andrea Spickett
Gastrointestinal helminths are a number one disease affecting farming systems worldwide. They are a major cause of ill thrift and production loss in both the commercial and the smallholder farming sector and affect the entire spectre of livestock species. Yet, rural development in terms of agricultural development involves increasing the overall productivity and sustainability of farming systems. Helminth control programmes based solely on the use of anthelmintic drugs are no longer sustainable, because of an increased prevalence of nematode resistance, high costs and concerns regarding residues in the food and environment.
To assist in target-specific, integrated helminth management and control strategies, we offer the following identification services as well as
diagnostic services to establish worm burdens in live animals as a decision tool whether the use of anthelmintics is indicated or not.
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