The Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) and Control of Cattle Parasites Sustainable (COWS) have warned farmers to be vigilant about the current risk of liver fluke.
The weather patterns of 2023, which included a cold dry spring, a wet July and August, a September heatwave, and heavy rain in late autumn and early winter, have pushed the fluke risk later into the winter.
Abattoirs, post mortem providers and laboratories have been reporting increasing numbers of cases since late November, although overall numbers are not high.
John Graham-Brown of the University of Liverpool said: “The NADIS liver fluke forecast mostly predicted low to medium risk in the normal development period, but the delayed threat this autumn means we are concerned some livestock farmers may get caught out, either because they treated too early or have had negative test results earlier in the autumn and think they are safe.”
Diana Williams, also of the University of Liverpool, added: “At this stage of the year (January/February), when we would expect adult flukes to be present in the livers of infected livestock, we can also use faecal testing methods.
“Dung samples can be tested for an antigen produced by the liver fluke (coproantigen) and of course the detection of fluke eggs is also a valuable tool. Ask your vet or adviser which test is most appropriate for your farm and never rely on a single negative test, particularly if you have had problems in the past.”
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