I’m Dr Jacqui Panozzo, a West-Gippsland, Vic, based scientist, who also has a hobby of breeding Connemara ponies in my spare time. My background includes a Bachelor of Veterinary Bioscience and a Doctorate (PhD) in Parasitology. Broken down, my PhD covered livestock parasitology/parasite (helminth) diagnostics/molecular biology. Part of my research was based around comparing (and to some degree developing) modern DNA based diagnostic assays to traditional techniques such as faecal egg counts.
Worms are the most common infection grazing animals will have. And yet, there is very little support available for horse and livestock owners on how to manage worms in their animals. Throughout my research, I began to see how so many people were following old-fashioned treatment plans.
I started up WormCheck to help change how people manage parasites in their animals. Faecal egg counts are still the gold-standard of diagnosis for many parasites in livestock, and they should be easily available and inexpensive for owners to get done. Using FECs to inform de-worming practices greatly decreases the reliance on chemical wormers and the risk of drug resistance developing. Most diseases and infections require a diagnosis before treatment – managing parasites should not be any different, just because anthelmintics are available over the counter in Australia.
As a scientist I do strongly believe that the simpler, the better, and so I aim to make parasite management and worming as simple and easy for owners as possible. Not only that, but I’m also passionate about basing treatments on evidence-based best-practice.
Long term goals for WormCheck involve setting up DNA-based diagnostics to be commercially available for livestock owners and researching and developing new and more accurate/sensitive tests. These will require money and time, but if you stick with me, maybe one day livestock owners will have more choice than a simple FEC, which remains the only test available and the gold-standard for helminth diagnosis.