Rafoxanide is not an appropriate alternative to closantel when treating liver fluke, farmers warned.
Following reports of a ‘misunderstanding’ around two veterinary medicines for liver fluke treatment, Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) and Control of Cattle Parasites Sustainably (COWS) are reminding farmers, SQPs, vets and advisors to exercise caution around use of the limited number of different flukicide products, as reports of resistance to triclabendazole continue to increase.
Speaking on behalf of SCOPS, Lesley Stubbings says: “We are aware there has been misunderstanding with respect to two veterinary medicines that are not currently authorised in the UK.
"These have been imported from the Republic of Ireland under a Special Import Certificate from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, for use on some UK farms.
“Both veterinary medicines contain the active substance rafoxanide, and it is apparent there is significant confusion around rafoxanide, especially with respect to using it as an alternative to closantel on farms where triclabendazole resistance is proven."
A joint statement from the two bodies on rafoxanide highlights that this is not a new flukicide or a different class to closantel.
It also says there is evidence of cross-resistance between rafoxanide and closantel from both field and laboratory studies.
Professor Diana Williams of COWS says: "This is important because it means there is no evidence to suggest using closantel and rafoxanide interchangeably or on a rotational basis will successfully reduce the selection pressure for resistance to closantel.
"Indeed, there is a serious risk that such use of rafoxanide will hasten the development of resistance to closantel.
"It would be fantastic for sheep and cattle farmers if rafoxanide was a new active against fluke, but unfortunately that is not the case.
"We do not want people working in the livestock industry to mistakenly think the two products containing rafoxanide are ‘silver bullets’, when in fact their overuse could do more harm than good.”