January’s National Animal Disease Information Service Parasite Forecast shows there is a risk of very high levels of liver fluke disease across Scotland, Wales and western England and significant risk across most of the rest of the UK.

Although figures are not available to produce a forecast for Northern Ireland, climate data suggests a very high risk there too.

Fiona MacGillivray, Merial Animal Health’s veterinary adviser, says it’s more important than ever that farmers are vigilant and consider fluke treatment as part of their farm health plans.

She suggests grazing cattle considered at risk and those not treated should be dosed to try and remove fluke in the liver that may be affecting production.

“Consult your vet for advice on which treatment to use if cattle have been grazing high risk pastures,” she says.

“The high fluke risk last year will mean pasture contamination with fluke cysts and an increased risk of disease problems in spring and summer. A fluke treatment at grass this year is therefore likely to be even more imperative to both reduce further pasture contamination and also to minimise the impact of fluke disease.”
Fiona MacGillivray, Merial Animal Health

Cattle which have been housed but not yet treated for fluke should be dosed with a flukicide, if they had been on pastures beforehand which were likely to have been contaminated. Try to avoid using triclabendazole-based flukicide treatments in cattle unless acute disease is suspected; by conserving use of this vitally important drug for the treatment of acute disease in sheep it may be possible to reduce and delay the development of resistance, which is becoming more widespread across both the UK and Ireland.

The weather in 2012 will mean further problems can also be expected through 2013.

Mrs MacGillivray says: “The high fluke risk last year will mean pasture contamination with fluke cysts and an increased risk of disease problems in spring and summer. A fluke treatment at grass this year is therefore likely to be even more imperative to both reduce further pasture contamination and also to minimise the impact of fluke disease.”

More on this topic

Get more information about fluke and worm control.

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