The Department of Agriculture has this weekend advised farmers in relation to the predicted risk of disease caused by liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) infection in livestock based on advice received from the Liver Fluke Advisory Group on meteorology data provided by Met Eireann.

A liver fluke disease-forecasting model based on data provided by Met Eireann, with regard to weather conditions last winter and rainfall during the summer and early autumn of this year, predicts that the risk of liver fluke infection is high in the West of the country and in a number of regional locations throughout the north, midlands and south, which had greater number of days of rainfall during the summer.

However, because of greater variation between locations in the amount of rainfall this summer the model also predicts many local areas in the east will have a moderate risk and some areas, particularly farms on free-draining soils, in the south east will have a low risk of liver fluke disease.

The winter weather provided sufficiently wet conditions suitable for the over-wintering and propagation of the snail intermediate host. In areas, which experienced high summer rainfall, and on poorly-draining soil types, conditions were also present for the production of the infective stage of the liver fluke on pasture.

Because of the wide variation in rainfall during the summer months, livestock owners should continue to be vigilant for any illness or illthrift or mortality in their stock and should consult with their veterinary surgeon, in order to determine if there is any liver fluke infection present, the department has warned.

“In areas in the West but also in many areas of the South, Midlands and North, and in any farms with less free-draining soils and in any other local areas in which liver fluke infection has been diagnosed, livestock owners should consult with their veterinary surgeon to devise an appropriate control or prevention program for liver fluke infection for their livestock.”

Further detail on Liver Fluke and its control and information on flukicide selection is available in Animal Health Ireland’s leaflet ‘Liver Fluke – the facts’, which is on AHI’s website here.