Dr Caroline Jacobson
BSc BVMS(HonI) PhD

Senior Lecturer Biochemistry and Nutrition

About me

My role at Murdoch University is centered around conducting animal health research as part of the Centre for Animal Production Research within the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences. I also teach veterinary and animal science students, mainly in nutrition and animal science, and supervise post-graduate research students.

I am a Murdoch University graduate in veterinary science, and worked in private veterinary practices in Western Australia and United Kingdom after graduation.  My research career has focussed on livestock health and production, incorporating the fields of nutrition, parasitology, epidemiology and animal production.

Teaching area

The main area of my teaching is animal nutrition. I am the co-ordinator of the unit VET380 focused on animal nutrition and toxicology for students in the veterinary science and animal science programmes.

I also teach into a number of other units, including Comparative Mammalian Biochemistry (veterinary biochemistry), Animal Production Systems, General Small Animal Practice, Equine Nutrition and Health, and Equine Physiology and Behaviour.

Research areas

My research has broadly focussed on the impacts of disease on animal health and production, encompassing applied parasitology and reproduction research. I conduct research with the Centre for Animal Production at Murdoch University, working closely with the Sheep Reproduction group (led by Andrew Thompson), the Vector and Waterborne Disease group (led by Una Ryan and Peter Irwin), and the Meat Science group (led by David Pethick and Graham Gardner).

I have been principal investigator or joint-principal investigator of the following research projects:

  • Reducing foetal and lamb losses from young ewes
  • Determining the impact of protozoan pathogens on prime lamb production
  • Impact of bacteria and coccidia on scouring & productivity in sheep
  • Body condition score as a selection index for targeted treatment drenching strategies in adult sheep
  • Effect of immune suppression on parasite establishment and IgA and IgG antibody responses following Teladorsagia circumcincta challenge in grazing crossbred lambs
  • Proof of concept for a novel intracellular vaccine against apicomplexan parasitic infections.
  • Association between pro-inflammatory cytokines and abortion in sheep challenged with Toxoplasma gondii oocysts during pregnancy.
  • Increasing ewe lamb fertility through dietary manipulation of starch and fat
  • Effect of shearing ewes on lamb vigour
  • The effect of body condition and nutrition on the efficacy of BioclipTM biological wool harvesting in lambs
  • Nutritional composition of goat meat
  • Development of 4D farms to improve student learning to improve student learning and safety
  • Parasites and pathogens of veterinary and zoonotic importance in feral cats and black rats
  • Behavioural responses of cats housed in shelters to plant-derived compounds

Current projects

 Current projects

Reducing foetal and lamb losses in young ewes

Meat and Livestock Australia

Role: chief investigator

Co-investigators: Andrew Thompson (Murdoch University), Serina Hancock (Murdoch University), Dr Sue Beetson (Clinpath Consulting), Dr Angus Campbell and Elsa Glanville (Mckinnon Group, University of Melbourne), Dr Ryan O’Handley (University of Adelaide)

Summary:

Merino ewes are being displaced by maternal breeds with higher reproductive performance. Approximately 30-35% of producers are joining Maternal ewes at 8 to 10 months of age but adoption of this strategy is hampered by variable marking rates impacting financial return. Performance of Maternal and Merino ewes joined for the first time at 18 to 20 months of age is also more variable than in adult ewes. Producers and consultants reporting high rates of foetal loss between pregnancy scanning and lambing in well-managed flocks of first lambing ewes despite following available vaccination protocols have initiated this project. Causes of these apparent foetal losses are unknown. This national project will determine the extent and timing of reproductive wastage during pregnancy and between birth and marking, whether infectious diseases are associated with foetal losses,  and identify opportunities for addressing reproductive wastage.

 

Elucidating the role of dam water in livestock parasitic disease transmission

Co-investigators: Serina Hancock, Ali Zahedi, Una Ryan and Victoria Rawlings

Previous studies have shown diarrhoea outbreaks are common in young sheep in WA,  and flocks drinking dam water are more than 100 times more likely to be impacted. Cryptosporidium and Giardia are common parasites in sheep, and our previous studies have also shown that these parasites are associated with increased risk of diarrhoea. Recently we showed, for the first time, that these parasites also cause poorer growth and reduced meat productivity in sheep. Surprisingly, the role of drinking water in infection transmission to sheep is not understood. This project will establish if farm dam water is an important source of infections for these parasites and, for the first time, provide industry with tools to manage infection risk.

 

Recent projects

Impact of bacteria and coccidia on scouring & productivity in sheep

  • Meat and Livestock Australia and Australian Wool Innovation
  • This project was led by the Vector and Waterborne Disease team at Murdoch University with collaborators at SARDI, University of Melbourne and the Australian Sheep CRC (SA, VIC, NSW).
  • This project developed molecular tools that can be used to detect a range of disease-causing agents in sheep. These were used to characterise important gastrointestinal infections in prime lambs and determine which of these were associated with loss of productivity

Body condition score as a selection index for targeted treatment drenching strategies in adult sheep

  • This project was led by DAFWA with support from the Australian Sheep CRC
  • This project developed practical tools that farmers can use to improve the efficacy and sustainability of worm control in sheep

Awards and grants

I have been chief investigator or co-investigator on successful projects totalling over AUS$2.8 million.

Major grants: livestock health research

2018-2021: Reducing foetal and lamb losses from young ewes

  •  Caroline Jacobson (chief investigator), Serina Hancock, Andrew Thompson, Sue Beetson, Angus Campbell, Ryan O’Handley
  • Meat and Livestock Australia Ltd
  • $955 000

2011-2015: Impact of bacteria and coccidia on scouring & productivity in sheep.

  • Una Ryan, Caroline Jacobson (co-chief investigator), Kevin Bell, Stan Fenwick, Graham Gardner and Ian Robertson
  • Meat and Livestock Australia Ltd
  • $558 000

2009-2012: Determining the impact of protozoan pathogens on prime lamb production

  • Una Ryan, Ian Robertson, Caroline Jacobson (associate investigator) and Kevin Bell
  • ARC Linkage
  • $293 700

2010-2014: Investigation of resilience of sheep to parasite challenge

  • Brown Besier, Caroline Jacobson
  • Australian Sheep CRC ($120 000) and Murdoch University ($60 000)

2009-2010: Proof of concept for a novel intracellular vaccine against apicomplexan parasitic infections.

  • Ryan O’Handley, Caroline Jacobson, Robert Marano 

2009-2010: Establishment of a new collaborative research program to study the impact of infectious pathogens on pregnancy through development of an ovine toxoplasmosis model

  • Ryan O’Handley, Caroline Jacobson (co-chief investigator), Anne Barnes, David Miller, Elizabeth Bramley, Kevin Bell, Rob Trengove

 

Doctoral and masters supervisions

Post-graduate HDR students

  • Thomas Clune (in progress) PhD – The role of infectious disease in reproductive wastage of young ewes
  • Khalid Al Habsi (2018) PhD – Molecular characterisation of selected enteric pathogens and antimicrobial resistance of Salmonella in rangeland goats in Western Australia. Co-supervisors: Una Ryan, Caroline Jacobson, David Miller, Sam Abraham, Rongchang Yang.
  • Narelle Dybing (2017) PhD – Parasites of feral cats and rats in WA and Christmas Island. Co-supervisors: Peter Adams, Caroline Jacobson, Peter Irwin.
  • Meghan Cornelius (2017) PhD – Targeted treatment parasite control for sheep. Co-supervisors: Caroline Jacobson, Brown Besier.
  • Joshua Sweeny (2012) PhD – Effect of protozoan parasites on prime lambs. Co-supervisors: Una Ryan, Caroline Jacobson, Ian Robertson.

Honours students

  • Victoria Rawlings (in progress) The role of dam water in transmission of veterinary and zoonotic infections of importance to the Western Australian sheep meat industry
  • Kimberly Miller (2016)  Effect of immune suppression on parasite establishment and IgA and IgG antibody responses following Teladorsagia circumcincta challenge in grazing crossbred lambs (IIA honours)
  • Mara Farrelly (2011) Shearing pregnant ewes in winter in a Mediterranean environment increases vigour and thermoregulatory capability of their offspring (Animal Science honours unit – distinction)
  • Elise Bowen (2011) Increasing ewe lamb fertility through dietary manipulation of starch and fat (Animal Science honours unit – High Distinction)
  • Clare Ward (2011) The effect of body condition and nutrition on the efficacy of Bioclip™ biological wool harvesting (Animal Science honours unit – High Distinction)
  • Simone Scott (2010) Study of febrile response in sheep challenged with Toxoplasma gondii (Animal Science honours unit – Distinction)
  • Kathryn Ayres (2010) Development of a faecal progestin assay to aid early pregnancy diagnosis in sheep (Animal Science honours unit – Distinction)
  • Jayde Calderwood (2010) Development of a real time PCR assay for detecting Salmonella and Campylobacter in sheep faeces (Animal Science honours unit – Distinction)
  • Keshia Hilliam (2009) The productivity of three sheep breeds when grazing barley stubbles (Animal Science honours unit – Distinction)
  • Joshua Sweeny (2008) Relationship between worm egg count, body weight and productivity of Dorper lambs  (Animal Science honours unit – Distinction)

 

Publications

Chapters

  • Besier, R., Jacobson, C., Woodgate, R., Bell, K., (2010),Sheep Health,In: International Sheep and Wool Handbook, Nottingham University Press, pages 471 to 478.

Journals

  • Dybing, N., Jacobson, C., Irwin, P., Algar, D., Adams, P., (2018), Challenging the dogma of the Island Syndrome: A study of helminth parasites of feral cats and black rats on Christmas Island, Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 25, 1, pages 99 - 118.
  • Jacobson, C., Al Habsi, K., Ryan, U., Williams, A., Anderson, F., Yang, R., Abraham, S., Miller, D., (2018), Cryptosporidium infection is associated with reduced growth and diarrhoea in goats beyond weaning, Veterinary Parasitology, 260, , pages 30 - 37.
  • Al Habsi, K., Yang, R., Abraham, S., Ryan, U., Miller, D., Jacobson, C., (2018), Molecular characterisation of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and Campylobacter jejuni faecal carriage by captured rangeland goats, Small Ruminant Research, 158, , pages 48 - 53.
  • Jacobson, C., Yang, R., Williams, A., Gardner, G., Carmichael, I., Campbell, A., Ryan, U., (2018), Faecal shedding of pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica determined by qPCR for yst virulence gene associated with reduced live weight but not diarrhoea in prime lambs, Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 152, , pages 56 - 64.
  • Dybing, N., Jacobson, C., Irwin, P., Algar, D., Adams, P., (2017), Leptospira Species in Feral Cats and Black Rats from Western Australia and Christmas Island, Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, 17, 5, pages 319 - 324.
  • Al Habsi, K., Yang, R., Ryan, U., Jacobson, C., Miller, D., (2017), Morphological and molecular characterization of an uninucleated cyst-producing Entamoeba spp. in captured Rangeland goats in Western Australia, Veterinary Parasitology, 235, , pages 41 - 46.
  • Yang, R., Abraham, S., Gardner, G., Ryan, U., Jacobson, C., (2017), Prevalence and pathogen load of Campylobacter spp., Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli O157/O145 serogroup in sheep faeces collected at sale yards and in abattoir efuent in Western Australia, Australian Veterinary Journal, 95, 5, pages 143 - 148.
  • Al Habsi, K., Yang, R., Ryan, U., Miller, D., Jacobson, C., (2017), Morphological and molecular characterization of three Eimeria species from captured rangeland goats in Western Australia, Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports, 9, , pages 75 - 83.
  • Al Habsi, K., Yang, R., Williams, A., Miller, D., Ryan, U., Jacobson, C., (2017), Zoonotic Cryptosporidium and Giardia shedding by captured rangeland goats, Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports, 7, , pages 32 - 35.
  • Cornelius, M., Jacobson, C., Dobson, R., Besier, B., (2016), Computer modelling of anthelmintic resistance and worm control outcomes for refugia-based nematode control strategies in Merino ewes in Western Australia, Veterinary Parasitology, 220, , pages 59 - 66.
  • Dybing, N., Jacobson, C., Irwin, P., Algar, D., Adams, P., (2016), GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST ABSENCE OF TRYPANOSOMES IN FERAL CATS AND BLACK RATS FROM CHRISTMAS ISLAND AND WESTERN AUSTRALIA, Parasitology Open, 2, e4, pages 1 - 5.
  • Yang, R., Ryan, U., Gardner, G., Carmichael, I., Campbell, A., Jacobson, C., (2016), Prevalence, faecal shedding and genetic characterisation of Yersinia spp. in sheep across four states of Australia, Australian Veterinary Journal, 94, 5, pages 129 - 137.
  • Dybing, N., Jacobson, C., Irwin, P., Algar, D., Adams, P., (2016), Bartonella Species Identified in Rodent and Feline Hosts from Island and Mainland Western Australia, Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, 16, 4, pages 238 - 244.
  • Jacobson, C., Williams, A., Yang, R., Ryan, U., Carmichael, I., Campbell, A., Gardner, G., (2016), Greater intensity and frequency of Cryptosporidium and Giardia oocyst shedding beyond the neonatal period is associated with reductions in growth, carcase weight and dressing efficiency in sheep, Veterinary Parasitology, 228, , pages 42 - 51.
  • Cornelius, M., Jacobson, C., Besier, R., (2015), Application of a body condition score index for targeted selective treatment in adult Merino sheep-A modelling study, Veterinary Parasitology, 214, 42767, pages 125 - 131.
  • Cornelius, M., Jacobson, C., Besier, R., (2015), Factors likely to influence the adoption of targeted selective treatment strategies by sheep farmers in Western Australia, Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 121, 42828, pages 325 - 331.
  • Yang, R., Gardner, G., Ryan, U., Jacobson, C., (2015), Prevalence and pathogen load of Cryptosporidium and Giardia in sheep faeces collected from saleyards and in abattoir effluent in Western Australia, Small Ruminant Research, 130, , pages 216 - 220.
  • Yang, R., Jacobson, C., Gardner, G., Carmichael, I., Campbell, A., Ng-Hublin, J., Ryan, U., (2014), Longitudinal prevalence, oocyst shedding and molecular characterisation of Cryptosporidium species in sheep across four states in Australia, Veterinary Parasitology, 200, 200, pages 50 - 58.
  • Yang, R., Jacobson, C., Gardner, G., Carmichael, I., Campbell, A., Ryan, U., (2014), Longitudinal prevalence, faecal shedding and molecular characterisation of Campylobacter spp. and Salmonella enterica in sheep, The Veterinary Journal, 202, 2, pages 250 - 254.
  • Yang, R., Jacobson, C., Gardner, G., Carmichael, I., Campbell, A., Ryan, U., (2014), Longitudinal prevalence, oocyst shedding and molecular characterisation of Eimeria species in sheep across four states in Australia, Experimental Parasitology, 145, 0, pages 14 - 21.
  • Yang, R., Jacobson, C., Gardner, G., Carmichael, I., Campbell, A., Ryan, U., (2014), Development of a quantitative PCR (qPCR) for Giardia and analysis of the prevalence, cyst shedding and genotypes of Giardia present in sheep across four states in Australia, Experimental Parasitology, 137, , pages 46 - 52.
  • Yang, R., Jacobson, C., Gardner, G., Carmichael, I., Campbell, A., Ryan, U., (2014), Longitudinal prevalence and faecal shedding of Chlamydia pecorum in sheep, The Veterinary Journal, 201, 3, pages 322 - 326.
  • Cornelius, M., Jacobson, C., Besier, R., (2014), Body condition score as a selection tool for targeted selective treatment-based nematode control strategies in Merino ewes, Veterinary Parasitology, 206, 42828, pages 173 - 181.
  • Ward, C., Watts, T., Miller, D., Jacobson, C., (2013), Effect of nutrition, body condition and liveweight change on efficacy of biological wool harvesting with epidermal growth factor (Bioclip), Animal Production Science, 53, 6, pages 487 - 494.
  • Dobson, R., Hosking, B., Jacobson, C., Cotter, J., Besier, R., Stein, P., Reid, S., (2012), Preserving new anthelmintics: A simple method for estimating faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT) confidence limits when efficacy and/or nematode aggregation is high, Veterinary Parasitology, 186, 42767, pages 79 - 92.
  • Sweeny, J., Ryan, U., Robertson, I., Jacobson, C., (2012), Molecular identification of naturally acquired strongylid infections in lambs-An investigation into how lamb age influences diagnostic sensitivity, Veterinary Parasitology, 187, 42767, pages 227 - 236.
  • Sweeny, J., Ryan, U., Robertson, I., Jacobson, C., (2012), Prevalence and on-farm risk factors for diarrhoea in meat lamb flocks in Western Australia, The Veterinary Journal, 192, 3, pages 503 - 510.
  • Sweeny, J., Robertson, I., Ryan, U., Jacobson, C., Woodgate, R., (2012), Impacts of naturally acquired protozoa and strongylid nematode infections on growth and faecal attributes in lambs, Veterinary Parasitology, 184, 42827, pages 298 - 308.
  • Sweeny, J., Robertson, I., Ryan, U., Jacobson, C., Woodgate, R., (2011), Comparison of molecular and McMaster microscopy techniques to confirm the presence of naturally acquired strongylid nematode infections in sheep, Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 180, 1, pages 62 - 67.
  • Sweeny, J., Gardner, G., Dobson, R., Jacobson, C., Bell, K., (2011), Associations between trichostrongylid worm egg count and productivity measures in Dorper lambs, Veterinary Parasitology, 180, 42828, pages 307 - 314.
  • Sweeny, J., Ryan, U., Robertson, I., Yang, R., Bell, K., Jacobson, C., (2011), Longitudinal investigation of protozoan parasites in meat lamb farms in southern Western Australia, Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 101, 42828, pages 192 - 203.
  • Sweeny, J., Ryan, U., Robertson, I., Jacobson, C., (2011), Cryptosporidium and Giardia associated with reduced lamb carcase productivity, Veterinary Parasitology, 182, 42827, pages 127 - 139.
  • Yang, R., Jacobson, C., Gordon, C., Ryan, U., (2009), Prevalence and molecular characterisation of Cryptosporidium and Giardia species in pre-weaned sheep in Australia, Veterinary Parasitology, 161, , pages 19 - 24.
  • Jacobson, C., Bell, K., Besier, R., (2009), Nematode parasites and faecal soiling of sheep in lairage: evidence of widespread potential production losses for the sheep industry, Animal Production Science, 49, 4, pages 326 - 332.
  • Jacobson, C., Bell, K., Forshaw, D., Besier, B., (2009), Association between nematode larvae and "low worm egg count diarrhoea" in sheep in Western Australia, Veterinary Parasitology, 165, 1-2, pages 66 - 73.
  • Jacobson, C., Pluske, J., Besier, R., Bell, K., Pethick, D., (2009), Associations between nematode larval challenge and gastrointestinal tract size that affect carcass productivity in sheep., Veterinary Parasitology, 161, , pages 248 - 254.
  • Ryan, U., Jacobson, C., Robertson, I., Read, C., Elliot, A., Mcinnes, L., Traub, R., Besier, B., (2005), Sheep may not be an important zoonotic reservoir for Cryptosporidium and Giardia, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 71, , pages 4992 - 4997.

Conference

  • Miller, D., Bowen, E., Jacobson, C., (2016),Altering the starch and fat content of the peri-conception diet has no effect on fertility in breeding ewe lambs,In: 5th EAAP International Society for Energy and Protein Metabolism and Nutrition.
  • Jacobson, C., Besier, R., (2006),Internal parasites in sheep at slaughter: a burden on the sheep meat industry?,In: Australian Sheep Industry Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Conference (2006).
  • Jacobson, C., Bell, K., Forshaw, D., Besier, R., (2006),Investigation of causes of "low worm egg count diarrhoea" in sheep in Western Australia,In: Australian Sheep Veterinarians (2006).
  • Jacobson, C., Ryan, U., Robertson, I., Besier, R., (2005),Internal parasites and association with diarrhoea in sheep at an abattoir in Western Australia,In: 6th International Sheep Veterinary Congress (ISVC) (2005).
  • Jacobson, C., Pluske, J., Bell, K., Besier, R., Pethick, D., (2005),Increasing digesta viscosity may increase parasite establishment in the small intestine of sheep,In: 6th International Sheep Veterinary Congress (ISVC) (2005).
  • Jacobson, C., Pluske, J., Bell, K., Pethick, D., (2005),Increasing viscosity of digesta has detrimental effects on faecal consistency in sheep,In: 6th International Sheep Veterinary Congress (ISVC) (2005).
  • Suter, R., Jacobson, C., Besier, R., (2005),Changes in worm control practices on Western Australian sheep farm 1981-2002,In: 6th International Sheep Veterinary Congress (ISVC) (2005).
  • Besier, R., Ryan, U., Jacobson, C., (2004),Worm burdens in sheep at slaughter,In: Agribusiness Sheep Updates (2004).
  • Besier, R., Ryan, U., Jacobson, C., (2004),Parasites in sheep at slaughter - an unexpected burden on the industry,In: Australian Sheep Veterinary Society Annual Meeting (2004).
  • Jacobson, C., (2003),Non-infectious intestinal conditions of sheep,In: Australian Sheep Veterinary Society (2003).