The same liver fluke affects cattle and sheep and causes severe clinical disease, even death, and costs both industries millions of pounds every year in lost productivity.
Higher risk than ever before
Reported liver fluke cases are increasing with warm wet summers:
- Meat Hygiene Service records show 20% of all cattle slaughtered in the first quarter of 2010 had their livers condemned due to liver fluke1.
- A number of producers are receiving slaughter reports of infected stock for the first time ever2.
No safe regions
Liver fluke are now found throughout the UK. Previously less affected areas such as East Anglia and south east Scotland, can no longer be regarded as safe.
Liver fluke lifecycle
The liver fluke has two main phases to its lifecycle, occurring inside and outside the animal.
Liver damage: why all 3 stages of fluke must be killed
- All 3 stages of fluke cause liver damage inhibiting productivity and performance – so the earlier you kill fluke the better.
- By killing early immature fluke (from just 2 weeks old in cattle) triclabendazole stops liver damage at the earliest opportunity.
- Damage by second and third stage fluke never occurs, giving the liver the best chance to recover.
- Animals quickly regain condition and resume healthy production.
The importance of killing early liver flukes
- Early immature fluke tunnel through the liver severing blood vessels and destroying liver cells, which affects liver function, resulting in anaemia even death.
- Damage continues unless early immature fluke are eliminated by a flukicide that kills all 3 stages of fluke.
- Only triclabendazole restores productivity by killing early immature fluke down to 2 weeks old in cattle.
Effective control for optimum productivity
- Some products leave early immature and some immature stages of liver fluke alive. Left to develop, they cause further liver damage and develop into egg-laying adults.
- Dosing with these products will ensure that fluke are killed before they lay eggs, and contamination of pasture with fluke eggs is greatly reduced.
- Killing all 3 stages of fluke, right down to 2 weeks old in cattle, can lead to increased weight gain and improved performance
Resistance or re-infection?
As with any class of antiparasitic products, misuse of flukicides can lead to resistance. However, the true cause of disease after treatment is often re-infection, as no flukicides have persistency of action. In years of high risk, it is important to treat animals more often to manage the re-infection rate.
There are several practical measures that can be recommended to maintain the effectiveness of on farm fluke control programmes:
- Consider Faecal Egg Count Testing to determine if resistance is an issue.
- Ensure correct dosage by weighing animals accurately and calibrating dosage guns regularly.
- Triclabendazole should be used when immature and early immature fluke present a risk.
- It is important to discuss treatment programmes with your vet or prescriber.
Fluke not a problem? Keep it that way. It is recommended that:
- A quarantine flukicide dose is given to bought-in stock.
- Dosed animals should be kept away from snail habitats (wet, marshy areas) for 4 weeks as dead fluke can still shed eggs for up to 3 weeks.
- Veterinary Record 2010;167:78-81
- EBLEX Stock briefing report 14th August 2009
- R.Bennet et al, Economic Assessment of Livestock Diseases in Great Britain, 2003
- Reference TCBZ performance 020
- Boray JC, NSW Veterinary Proceedings, Vol 18, 1982
Use of flukicides in dairy cows and withdrawal periods