Liver Fluke Spreading Eastwards Say Vets

UK - Increasing numbers of vets in the east of Britain report that they are seeing more cases of liver fluke than ever before.
calendar icon 27 May 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

A survey conducted by Merial Animal Health among vets dealing with cattle in the east of England and Scotland, revealed that 90% either strongly agreed or agreed with the statement: ‘We are seeing more cases of liver fluke through this practice now than we did in the past’.

One vet noted that he had dealt with 36 new cases through his practice alone.

A total of 90 per cent also either strongly agreed or agreed with the statement: ‘Liver fluke is now a problem on the east of the country as well as the west.’

Fiona MacGillivray MRCVS, Veterinary Adviser with Merial Animal Health, said: “This survey bears out what we have been hearing for some time.

"The incidence of liver fluke in cattle has significantly increased in the east and fluke can no longer simply be considered a problem of the wet west. Many of these practices had never had to deal with fluke until a few years ago but now it is a significant issue."

Of those vets surveyed, 65 per cent strongly agreed and a further 20 per cent agreed that ‘Liver fluke has a significant impact on the health, performance and productivity of infected cattle.’

One vet noted that he had witnessed cattle deaths as a result of fluke and another noted that he was extremely concerned about the impact of fluke on the health and performance of cattle seen by his practice.

Fiona MacGillivray said: “At worst fluke can cause the death of affected animals, at best and more commonly, fluke do not cause overt clinical symptoms in cattle but significantly impair their performance. Indeed, fluke can reduce cattle liveweight gain by up to 1.2 kg per week1 and add anything up to an extra 80 days to finishing.

"As a result, fluke infection is a very costly problem but in the east of the country farmers may not be aware of how much of a threat it is because they have not had to deal with it before.”

“Not only is fluke increasing and spreading across the country, it is also becoming much more of a year-round issue. Where the parasite used to be much more of a concern during the autumn and winter, it is now also having a real effect during the spring and summer too.”

In terms of treatment, a fluke dose given eight to 10 weeks after turnout will minimise pasture contamination from fluke eggs, ensure maximum growth from grass and reduce the risk of fluke infection later in the year. Farmers can either choose a straight fluke product such as Trodax®, which can be given alongside an existing planned wormer treatment, or alternatively a combination endectocide such as Ivomec® Super can be used. Not only does Ivomec® Super control fluke, it also has the advantage of providing persistent protection against roundworms so, in effect, can be used to replace an existing worm treatment in a strategic control programme. Both Trodax® and Ivomec® Super have been successfully used on farm for more than 20 years and neither product is affected by rainfall, which is important when we are faced with increasingly wet summers.

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