Liver Fluke Threatens Cattle Welfare05 October 2009
UK - The number of cattle and sheep infected with liver fluke this year could be at the highest level ever, warn Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) vets.
It is believed that the rise in fluke numbers, linked to rising temperatures and increased rainfall is another consequence of climate change and likely to get worse.
In 2003 the fluke risk was so high that SAC mounted a campaign with farmers’ meetings to give advice on how to treat the problem. In 2008 the prevalence of fasciolosis in sheep and cattle rose beyond those levels, and now 2009 promises to be even worse. The summer rainfall (April to August) has been more than 25 per cent higher than last year and the temperature has been 0.25C higher.
SAC concerns over the likely number of cases this autumn and winter is supported by the figures to date In April to August, this year shows an increase of four per cent, in diagnoses in cattle compared with 2008. The likely results are not only deaths, clinical disease, poor growth rates and liver condemnations, but also subclinical disease in sheep and cattle.
Cattle and sheep from fluke areas should be treated with a product effective against immature flukes and quarantine applied. Ideally the treated animals should be held away from snail-contaminated pastures for four weeks with monitoring of fluke egg counts in their dung carried out in subsequent months and, possibly, a follow-up treatment six to eight weeks after the initial dose. Farmers are also warned about bringing infected stock onto their farms, especially if they have wet boggy areas where snails thrive.
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