External Parasites of Livestock in Villages of Uttar Pradesh

We carried out livestock parasite research in two villages near Kachhwa, Uttar Pradesh, in March 2017.  This research will inform and guide the parasite treatment which is a key element of our One Health Outreach in these villages in 2018 and beyond.

We examined cattle in the village of Kolahalpur and goats in Lachapur. In both villages, we found the animals severely affected by similar parasites.  We share our findings and treatment recommendations here to assist and promote collaboration with others working in the field.

The vast majority of the animals we examined (about 90%) had visible evidence of external parasites. The visible ectoparasites were ticks and sucking lice.  Other invisible external parasites like sarcoptes and chorioptes mites were suspected due the characteristic skin lesions and pruritis that we saw in many of the animals.

These parasites can have significant effects not only on the health and milk yield of the affected animal, but in some cases directly on the health of the villagers as well, via zoonosis.  The villagers were aware of the potential zoonosis, often telling me that they too were suffering from the parasites that their animals were.

Specific Findings


Our investigations show that sucking lice are a significant problem for livestock in Dalit villages around Kachhwa.  These parasites are not zoonotic but can cause severe itching, skin wounds, and anemia of the animals they infect


Many of the cows and buffalo we examined had significant pruritis and subsequent skin lesions consistent with mites.  The most likely species in these cases are sarcoptes and chorioptes. Sarcoptes is zoonotic, and thus can cause sarcoptes mange in people who have close contact with infected animals


Ticks are major vectors of a multitude of devastating diseases affecting both the health and production of livestock, as well as potentially to humans. These are examples of just a few:

  • Babesiosis is a protozoal organisms that causes disease in both humans and cattle. Babesia causes fever, anemia, and is sometimes fatal
  • Ehrlichia also has both cattle and human manifestations, causing a multitude of problems ranging from fever, anemia, diarrhea, neuropathy (neurologic derangements), and death
  • Tuleremia, also called Q fever, can infect a multitude of organs, most commonly the skin of both humans and cattle. If infection manifests in internal organs, this disease is often fatal.
  • Anaplasma is one of the most devastating and prevalent tick born diseases of cattle in India, causing depression, reduced appetite, and a 50% fatality rate.  Cattle that survive the disease phase become lifelong carriers, thus infecting other cattle as long as ticks are present

All of the diseases listed above can be prevented with proper parasite control.  The medication we recommend is Doramectin in a pour-over style delivery.

Treatment Recommendation

Currently these parasites are highly problematic for the health and economy of the village women. They can however, be relatively easily controlled with treatment, when applied appropriately. After researching the various formulations available, we decided on one that is efficacious against most internal parasites (see blog about internal parasites) as well as ticks, mites, and lice, like we saw in the village. It is safe for calves and pregnant cows and has no milk withhold time (meaning it can be given to lactating cows and the milk can be consumed with no problem), making it the ideal medication for our work.

The medication is an easily applied topical that must be applied to dry hide.  After it is allowed to set for 12 hours, it is water-proof and rainfast.  For adequate control of most parasites, we recommend treatment twice a year; just before and just after the rainy season.

There is no medication that kills the lice eggs, only the adult lice.  However, the lice can be eradicated if the medication is given at specific intervals over a particular timeframe.  We recommend a dosing regimen of one dose every three weeks, for a total of three doses in order to reach optimal control in villages specifically affected by lice.

It will be best if the majority of the cows and buffalo in a village are treated at one time, in order to reduce recurrent transmission and re-infection between cows.  This is Mere Saathi's plan for our 2018 trip.