Department warns of high liver fluke risk after heavy rain fall

Livestock in counties with an Atlantic coastline in the North West, West and South are at higher risk of liver fluke infection this winter, according to the Department of Agriculture.

According to the Department, livestock in the East of the country face a much lower risk of infection due to the significantly greater number of rainfall days in the Atlantic coastal counties, it says.

The risk of infection in these Atlantic fronting counties has occurred due to sufficient days of rainfall in July and August to provide suitable conditions for propagation of the snail intermediate host, it says.

This is important as liver fluke infection can cause ill thrift in cattle and sheep, when a heavy infection occurs it may even cause sudden death in sheep, it says.

However, the Department confirmed that during the first 10 months of 2015, there has been a relatively low incidence of acute deaths caused by liver fluke relative to previous years at the Regional Veterinary Labs.

Furthermore, it added that stock owners should remain alert for the later onset of liver fluke disease during the remainder of this year due to the increased rainfall in July and August.

In assessing the risk of liver fluke disease on any particular farm, the variation between individual farms soil type and drainage capacity should be considered along with farm history and the weather, it says.

According to the Department, livestock owners should continue to remain vigilant for any sign of illness, ill thrift or mortality in their stock.

And if this occurs they should consult with their veterinary practitioner for diagnosis of liver fluke infection or other causes of these clinical signs.

Farmers should also take into consideration the information generated from abattoirs following the sale of fattened stock which is valuable to indicate the incidence of liver fluke infection.

The Department also says that livestock owners should consult with their veterinary practitioner to devise an appropriate control program on farms where liver fluke has been diagnosed or these is a poor history of the disease on farm.

The Department added that flukicides differ in their efficacy against fluke stages (immature, early and late matures), therefore it is important to match the product to the  stage of fluke development.

However, it added that livestock owners should also be aware that resistance to flukicides is also possible.

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