DEFRA and the Scottish Executive have been funding research into alternatives to conventional veterinary medicines for control of sheep scab for several years. To date the cost of this programme has been £4.4 million.
Three main approaches are being investigated. These are the development of vaccines, the development of scab mite growth-regulators and investigations into biological control techniques. The results for the vaccines and the mite growth regulators have been encouraging and so research requirements for new projects have been advertised and proposals are currently being considered.
These are complex and long-term projects. If they do lead to the development of alternative products it is unlikely that such products will be available for many years.
The use of sheep dip products containing diazinon would only be reviewed if new evidence was received that they could not be used safely. This is currently not the case. Packaging designed to prevent the operator from coming into contact with the concentrated material was fully introduced by July 2002 and since that time there has only been one reported case of a human adverse reaction arising from the use of organophosphate dip products.