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Western parts of UK at high fluke risk

Liver fluke is predicted to be a high risk this winter in many western parts of the UK.


Laura   Bowyer

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Laura   Bowyer
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Western parts of UK at high fluke risk

North, West and central Scotland, West Wales and Cornwall this winter are predicted to experience high levels of fluke incidences, according to records collected by NADIS over recent months.

 

This warning follows a year with one of the wettest summers on record and higher than average rainfall in many parts of Great Britain.

 

The risk in Eastern Scotland and parts of South West and Northern England is predicted to be medium and most of Central and Eastern regions of England were forecast to be at low risk.


Recent reports from members of sustainable control of parasites in sheep and control of worms sustainably, including SAC Veterinary Services, animal plant health agency and others, support this general situation – but there are localised variations. This means it is very important farmers talk to their vet, SQP or advisor to find out what is happening in their area, and decide what tests and risk assessment they need to carry out to investigate the situation on their own farm.

Now in late winter, more cases of chronic and sub–acute liver fluke will be seen as the parasite matures in the host.


Reports from around the UK:

  • In Scotland, SRUC report that in terms of liver fluke incidence as a percentage of total submissions, 2017/18 has been the highest winter level since 2012/13
  • In Wales, numerous cases have been reported by APHA. In January and February, cases of chronic fluke in Western England and West Wales are reported
  • In Cumbria, cases of sub-acute and chronic liver fluke have been reported with chronic liver fluke in North Yorkshire
  • In the Bristol area, abortions in a flock have were associated with the presence of liver fluke disease
  • A large Welsh abattoir reports a further increase in lamb liver condemnations due to fluke, rising from 2.8 per cent in October to 5 per cent in November and from 7.3 per cent in January to 10.5 per cent in February. This is significantly higher than the same month a year ago (7.8 per cent) and underlines the fact that this winter is carrying a higher risk

Points to note from SCOPS and COWS

  • Reports of disease continue mainly from high-risk areas, but farmers should seek local information, assess risk and use tests, abattoir feedback and post mortems to inform on-farm control measures.
  • Re‐infection (when treated animals are put back on to contaminated areas) is still a concern. Farmers need to remember fluckicides do not have any persistent activity.
  • Poor pregnancy scanning results in sheep may be the first indication of a liver fluke problem on the farm and may be limited to only one group of sheep depending on the group’s autumn/winter grazing history.
  • Make sure clostridial vaccinations are up-to-date.
  • While most cases of disease are associated with sheep, cases of liver fluke are being reported in cattle (11 per cent of cattle submissions to SRUC have been associated with liver fluke disease this winter).
  • Product choice is critical. This latter part of the liver fluke season is the time to consider taking pressure off triclabendazole products and swap to alternatives.
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