Farm - 03-10-2023 - Joe Reskelly BVM BVS MRCVS - 0 comments
Liver fluke in cattle

Liver Fluke newsletter - October 2023

Approaching housing and an acute risk period we should all be thinking about liver fluke. 

Liver fluke, or Fasciola Hepatica, is a common parasite that affects cattle worldwide. This flatworm can lead to significant health issues, affecting the liver and overall productivity of your cattle. With the warm and wet weather we have had in our "so called summer," it has been prime breeding conditions for the mud snail that hosts the fluke larvae.

The seasonal nature of liver fluke infection results from snails shedding infective larvae onto pasture primarily during late summer and early autumn. Cattle grazing over the autumn are at risk of ingesting larvae over a prolonged period and developing chronic disease which becomes evident in late winter and early spring. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Recognizing liver fluke infestations in cattle is crucial for timely intervention. Common symptoms include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Decreased milk production
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bottle jaw
  • Jaundice (yellowing of mucous membranes)

Combined with the above clinical signs we are able to diagnose fluke via the following tests:

  • Regular blood sampling first time grazing animals, allowing to see exposure to the fluke in the acute phase of the disease - At this time of year this is the best option in the arsenal
  • Regular feedback from abattoir returns, allowing you to monitor infestations yourselves
  • Faecal egg counts: this is useful in the latter stage (typically winter/spring) of the disease process - 10-12 weeks from initial infection

With the new Ovacyte update, we are one of the first vets in the country to be able to process liver fluke faecal testing in house. Speak to your vet about the best time to drop in your samples.

Read more in the full newsletter above.



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