Animal health experts are forecasting a high autumn liver fluke risk across Scotland, north-west England and north Wales after a warm and wet summer.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland is provisionally classed medium risk and the rest of southern Wales and eastern and southern England is classed as low risk.
This is according to the National Animal Disease Information Service (Nadis) provisional autumn fluke forecast, based on higher August rainfall and temperatures.
Mean UK August temperatures were 15.8C – 0.9C higher than the average. Rainfall was 153% of the long-term average, which Nadis says is ideal weather for fluke.
How to test for liver fluke
- Antibody Elisa tests can be used to detect early stages of liver fluke infection. Can be used to monitor flock/herd level infection and test bulk milk samples.
- Faecal samples – may not show early infection.
“Development of the infective stages of liver fluke on pasture are highly dependent on warm and wet weather and wet pasture for the presence of the intermediate snail hosts – the mud snail Galba truncatula”, the Nadis forecast said.
It warned that farms in low-risk areas with wet or boggy ground or a history of liver fluke should stay vigilant for signs of disease, namely:
- Sudden death
- General dullness
- Anaemia and shortness of breath
- Rapid weight loss
- Fluid accumulation such as bottle jaw
Products with the active triclabendazole is usually recommended as it is active against all stages of the parasite, added Nadis.
Post-treatment efficacy testing should be undertaken to help prevent resistance developing to triclabendazole.
Farmers can ensure Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (Scops) guidelines are followed, by:
- Reading the label and following the manufacturer’s recommendations
- Checking equipment is correctly calibrated before use
- Dosing by the weight of the animal