Nematodirosis was diagnosed in the south-east of Scotland during two consecutive autumns in lambs which were grazed on the same field. The problem was unpredicted based on the knowledge of the pasture and animal management, and rudimentary understanding of the behaviour of free-living stages of Nematodirus battus in the region. Unlike the epidemiology that has been described in the south of England, whereby autumn infection of lambs is believed to arise from autumn hatching of eggs shed during the previous spring without prior chilling, it is concluded that the autumn nematodirosis in a particular sheep flock in Scotland most likely arose following prolonged survival of larvae hatched during the spring from eggs shed during the previous summer, following periods of cold exposure over the previous winter. The infective larvae survived in large numbers in a small, sheltered strip of rough grazing, where they would have been protected from harmful ultraviolet radiation and heavy rainfall, before infecting lambs during the autumn. Understanding of the evolutionary potential, nematode parasites to adapt to changing environmental conditions depends on a thorough clinical investigative approach, and is a prerequisite for future preventive management.
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Provenance not commissioned; externally peer reviewed