By Brian Lassen
Background: Ultraviolet light (UV) is harmful to living organisms. Our atmosphere and clouds, protects us from the major exposure produced by the sun. Besides being burned by the rays, the light can also penetrate tissue, enter cells, and damage DNA ("nicking" it), making survival of organisms difficult (eg. skin-cancer). Basically, what it takes to kill or weaken an organism with UV-light depends on the intensity, exposure time, and the spectrum used of the light. The smaller the organism, the less UV-exposure necessary to kill it. This is well known and is widely used in many fields as a sterilizing procedures. It is also applied to water borne parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium with great success. UV-light is a natural limiting factor of egg shedding parasites, who in most cases require shade, moisture, and normal temperatures to develop and survive.
Parasite eggs: Many parasites, both protozoan (one celled) and helminths (worms), have a part of their life cycle outside the animal, either as a worm or egg. The success of a parasite depends on whether new animals pick up these eggs and get infected. Good hygiene can limit these eggs in the environment, but it is often difficult or neglected, especially in animal production.
Method: The novelty of this idea is to use UV-light directly on the environment (in the farm) of the animals (not on the animals), either killing or weakening the infection potential of parasites picked up from surfaces. The tool is simply identical to a flashlight with UV-light bulb of the right intensity, held over the surfaces the animal comes in contact with.
Limitations: UV-light does not penetrate deeply into for example faces on the ground. The effect is therefore limited to surfaces.
Extra benefits: Parasites with damaged DNA, will cause a weaker infection than normal, and possibly increase the chance of the animal acquiring immunity to it. Works on other free living pathogens too such as fungus, virus, and bacteria.
Warnings: UV-light is harmful to the eyes, and skin under longer exposures!