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Liver Fluke to Blame for Spread of TB

23 May 2012

UK - Liver fluke could be seriously distorting the reality of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in the UK, according to a new report published in the journal Nature.

The researchers looked closely at the relationship between the fluke Fasciola hepatica and the diagnosis of TB in cattle.

It concluded that if cattle are infected with the parasite, it could lead to a reduction of one-third in the detection of TB infected cattle.

The researchers believe that this may explain the increasing number of cases of TB in the UK, despite a strict policy in place to control the disease.

The number of new herd incidents in Great Britain in 2009 was 4,525 and government expenditure on the eradication programme was £108.4 million.

It has been known for a number of years that the parasite, Fasciola hepatica, lowers a cow's reaction to the TB skin test.

The research looks at how the fluke reduce the cow's immune response, which a TB test is effectively looking for, hence returning the test negative.

The study concluded that F. hepatica infection in cattle compromises the sensitivity of the SICCT test used in the United Kingdom to diagnose TB in the field.

A worrying part of this report is that liver fluke is estimated to be 70–80 per cent prevalent (at a herd level) in the UK dairy herd.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

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