The same liver fluke affects cattle and sheep causing severe clinical disease, or even death, and costs both industries millions of pounds every year in lost productivity.
Higher risk than ever before
Reported liver fluke cases have increased in recent years:
- VLA have reported a significant rise in both acute and chronic fluke disease in sheep investigated in recent years acute liver fluke1.
No safe regions
Liver fluke is 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.
- Live weight gain reduced by more than 10%2.
- Multiple births reduced by 10%2.
- Birth weight reduced by more than 5%2.
- Lamb weight gain reduced by up to 30%2.
- Lambing percentage reduced by 20%2.
Acute fluke disease
- Caused by immature and early immature fluke.
- Large numbers of immature fluke (500-1,000) can cause sudden unexpected death of ewes and lambs.
- Liver damage can cause the classic sign of acute fluke disease, “bottle jaw” and predispose livestock to death from Black’s disease (Clostridia).
Liver damage: why all 3 stages of fluke must be killed
- All 3 stages of fluke cause liver damage damage – inhibiting productivity and performance – so the earlier you kill fluke the better.
- By killing early immature fluke (from just 2 days old in sheep) 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 stage liver flukes
- Early immature fluke tunnel through the liver severing blood vessels and destroying liver cells.
- Loss of liver function, anaemia and even death can occur.
- Damage continues unless early immature fluke are eliminated by a flukicide that kills all 3 stages of fluke.
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.
- Killing all 3 stages of fluke with triclabendazole, as in Fasinex 5%®, Fasinex® 100, Combinex ® Sheep, and Fasimec ® Duo S helps preserve productivity
- Dosing with these products will ensure that fluke are killed before they lay eggs and contamination of pasture with fluke eggs is greatly reduced.
Correct timing of flukicide use is vital, and depends on the disease pressure in an area at any given time. As no flukicide has persistency of action, re-infection of sheep will occur when stock continue to graze on flukey pasture.
This is a common cause of disease outbreaks after treatment so advice from your vet or advisor on frequency of treatment is very important.
In years of high risk, it is important to treat animals more often to manage re-infection. However, to avoid overuse, discuss fluke control programmes with your vet or prescriber.
To ensure effective treatment, there are practical measures you can take to maintain the effectiveness of your fluke control:
- Only use products according to recommended treatment intervals, unless advised by a veterinarian to treat more frequently due to a high fluke risk.
- Ensure correct dosage by weighing animals accurately and calibrating dosage guns regularly.
- Discuss with your vet or prescriber the option of using an adulticide if you are certain no immature fluke are active on your farm at the time, and are treating for fluke frequently.
- Triclabendazole should be used when immature and early immature fluke present a risk to your stock.
- Fasimec Duo kills all 3 stage of fluke, early immature, immature and mature, down to 1 week old.The rest of the Novartis Flukicide Portfolio – Fasinex 5%, Fasinex 100 and Combinex Sheep – kills all 3 stages of fluke down to 2 days of age in sheep.
Fluke not a problem on your farm? Keep it that way:
- Give bought-in stock a quarantine flukicide dose.
- Keep those recently dosed animals away from snail habitats (wet, marshy areas) ideally for up to 4 weeks.
- Defra.gov.uk/vla/reports, 2008 compared to 2007 show a 100% rise in chronic fluke and also a 58% rise in acute fluke
- Novartis weight gain trials – Gottfried Buescher
- TCBZ performance 020
- Sheep Market Outlook April 2011 lamb liveweight price
Inside the animal
Liver fluke has 3 growth stages in the animal: early immature, immature and adult. All stages cause liver damage, clinical disease and production losses.
A single adult liver fluke can lay 50,000 eggs every day, ensuring extensive pasture contamination.
Outside the animal
Fluke needs the mud snail to mature. The snail lives in muddy wet areas thriving in warm, wet conditions.
Generally warmer, wetter climatic conditions are greatly increasing the period during which immature fluke stages present a risk.
- Fasimec Duo S kills all three stages of liver fluke; early, immature and adult – down to 1 week of age
- Many other flukicides don`t kill early immature and immature fluke
- Some flukicides only stunt, so egg laying and further liver damage will occur.
Killing all three stages of fluke delivers 3Kg higher weight gain than treating for adult fluke only3
What does 3 Kg represent?
3kg at £2.70 = £8.10 per animal treated
Or £2,025 in a flock of 250 lambs4
- Fluke eggs are passed by adult fluke in faeces.
- They hatch releasing a motile stage (miracidia) which swim via dew on grass to infect a species of mud snail (Lymnaea (syn Galba) truncatula) common on UK farms.
- Multiplying up to 600 times in the snail, another motile stage then migrates onto pasture.
- Heat and drought resistant cysts are formed and ingested by sheep.
- In sheep, the early immature fluke are released from these cysts and tunnel through the gut wall towards the liver.
- Early immature fluke cause immense damage - often death in sheep – whilst burrowing through the liver tissue.
- Growing and feeding on liver cells and blood, they develop into adults over a 10 week period.
- Migrating to the bile ducts, they restart the life cycle by producing more eggs.