BEFORE the deregulation of sheep scab control measures (Sheep Scab [National Dip] Order 1990) in July 1992, the combination of summer and autumn plunge dipping of all sheep for one minute in propetamphos, diazinon or flumethrin solutions, the licensing of markets, and the statutory restriction of movement of sheep out of infected areas maintained the annual incidence of sheep scab in the UK at less than 100 outbreaks per year. Plunge dipping may involve considerable animal handling and can prove expensive; it also raises concerns about operator safety and environmental contamination. Many shepherds and farmers, therefore, no longer annually plunge dip their sheep. Some rely on systemic endectocides for sheep scab control, but nowadays many do not actively prevent the disease in their flocks. The result is that, in areas with dense sheep populations, large numbers of animals are at risk of potentially severe disease. This article argues that the way forward for controlling sheep scab is to adopt a collaborative approach, rather than rely on the efforts of individual farms, which are all too often unsuccessful.
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