Farming News - Liver Fluke warning issued by NADIS

Liver Fluke warning issued by NADIS

03 Sep 2019
Frontdesk / Livestock

There is a high risk of liver fluke in parts of the UK, animal health experts have warned.

The summer fluke forecast was first published in August of this year and is based on rainfall and temperature for the months of August-October 2018, and May-June 2019.

This indicates risk from liver fluke emerging onto pastures early in the season from snails infected the previous season. This forecast is predicting high risk in western Scotland and moderate risk across the rest of Scotland, the whole of Wales and Northern Ireland and the west of England.

It should also be noted ahead of the autumn risk period which that the warm and generally wet conditions experienced over the 2019 grazing season to date will likely result in an autumn fluke risk that is considerably higher than that experienced in 2018.

                                         Summer fluke forecast 2019 by UK region.

It is therefore important to be on the lookout for signs of disease, particularly if you have a known history of fluke infection, and/or if you have animals grazing “flukey” pastures. Both sheep and cattle are susceptible to infection with liver fluke, although acute outbreaks are more common in sheep, with signs including:

  • Sudden death in heavy infections
  • General dullness, anaemia and shortness of breath
  • Rapid weight loss, fluid accumulation (e.g. bottle jaw)

 Advised actions include:

  • Monitoring for signs of disease.
  • Routine diagnostic testing to give a greater insight into the current infection:
    • Post-mortem in acute outbreaks allows for a definitive diagnosis.
    • Worm egg counts can be used to diagnose infection in individuals, or groups of animals when using a composite sample.
      • Egg counts cannot detect pre-patent infection and should not be relied upon for the diagnosis of acute disease.
    • Where acute disease occurs, treatment with triclabendazole is recommended as this is the only product effective against both adult and immature stages of the parasite.
      • Due to growing concerns over drug resistance it is also advised such treatments are accompanied by resistance testing at 21 days post-treatment to monitor efficacy.
      • Where drug failure is present and resistance suspected, please seek veterinary advice.
    • Risk of infection can be reduced by identifying high risk “flukey” pastures and avoiding grazing them during peak risk periods.
      • Mud snails are generally found in damp, muddy areas such as the borders of permanent water bodies, wet flushes (often identifiable through presence of rushes and other water loving plant species), ditches, boggy areas etc.
      • Pastures previously grazed by fluke infected sheep should be considered a risk to cattle and vice versa.