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Farmers advised to test for liver fluke before treating
“Reports from around the UK suggest that, as predicted, there has been a low challenge from liver fluke this winter."
Very dry summer prompts lower than normal fluke challenge 

Farmers are being advised to test sheep and cattle for liver fluke to determine if treatment is needed, as the number of fluke incidents has been much lower than in previous years.

A very dry summer in 2018, followed by winter conditions that kept fluke levels low, has resulted in very few reports of losses from acute fluke disease and lower than normal incidents of disease due to chronic fluke infections.

Lesley Stubbings, of the Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) group, said: “Reports from around the UK suggest that, as predicted, there has been a low challenge from liver fluke this winter.

“However, experts from around the country agree the key action this spring is to test to see if there are adult fluke present. If they are, treatment is needed to minimise the number of liver fluke eggs deposited on pastures this spring and reduce infection levels later in the summer.”

Diana Williams, from the University of Liverpool, said that while the liver fluke challenge was lower than normal last autumn, it is not safe to assume that treatment will be unnecessary this spring.

“Pockets of fluke still exist even in a drought, because stock will tend to graze fresh grass around wetter parts of fields, water courses and ditches,” she added. “These areas are where snails and, therefore, liver fluke larvae are also likely to be concentrated and why it is important to consider testing stock now, before turnout.”

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Wales to ban third party puppy and kitten sales

News Story 1
 The Welsh Government has said it will ban third party sales of puppies and kittens, after a consultation showed overwhelming public support.

A consultation in February received nearly 500 responses, most of whom called for greater action to improve the welfare of cats and dogs at all breeding premises.

Concerns were also raised about online sales, impulse buying, breeder accountability and illegal puppy imports.

A consultation will now be held on plans to implement a ban. Environment minister Lesley Griffiths said she will also revisit the current breeding regulations to improve welfare conditions.  

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News Shorts
WHO declares Congo Ebola outbreak an international health emergency

The World Health Organisation has declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The move comes after a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for Ebola in the DRC. The committee cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma - a city of almost two million people on the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world.

The committee also reinforced the need to protect the livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open.