Inspection of wool lots at sales as a diagnostic test for louse infestation.
The accuracy of visual inspection of wool lots for Bovicola ovis as a test for louse infestation was estimated using information provided by 178 wool growers in Queensland, Australia. The estimated sensitivity of inspection was 36% (95% confidence interval, 19-58%) and the specificity was 95% (95% CI, 88-98%). Accuracy was influenced by timing, after shearing, of pesticide application for louse control and by class of pesticide last applied after shearing. Visual inspection was less sensitive (29%) if pesticides were applied >3 months after shearing and less sensitive (21%) if an insect growth regulator was the class of pesticide last used after shearing. Based on 36% sensitivity, it was estimated that 16 inspections would have to be conducted to reduce the false negative test rate to <20% in the study population. We suggest that visual inspection of wool lots could be used to efficiently monitor the prevalence of louse infestations in Queensland sheep flocks. Positive inspection results are more likely to represent real louse infestations, rather than a false test result, in flocks grazed in the more extensive regions of Queensland.