The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) has repeated warnings to farmers and stock-holders to be aware of the very high risk of liver fluke infection, following the exceptionally wet summer of 2012.
An increased level of infection was forecast for the autumn and winter of 2012/13, and has now been confirmed by the increase in the number of diagnoses recorded by AHVLA.
Gavin Watkins, AHVLA Veterinary Investigation and Surveillance Lead for Wales, and Chair of the Agency’s Cattle Expert Group, said:
“The increase in the number of diagnoses is largely a result of high rainfall in 2012, which favoured the life cycle of the liver fluke and presented a considerable risk of infection to cattle and sheep grazing wet and poorly drained pastures.
Prevention of infection is difficult at this time of year and vets have reported that the incidence of infection on some farms is so high that animals have had to be housed to avoid the risk of further infection.
If farmers and stock-holders want to find out if they have fluke infection in their herd or flock they should consult their veterinary surgeon, who can send samples for diagnosis. It is important to remember that, as well as cattle and sheep; goats, llamas and alpacas are highly susceptible to fluke infection.”
The AHVLA and SCOPS (Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep) have already issued warnings of continued high risk of liver fluke infection for grazing animals for the early part of 2013, because the infective stage of the fluke life cycle will survive well on pasture land in mild, wet winters.
Notes for Editors
1) The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, working across Great Britain on behalf of Defra, Scottish Government and Welsh Government.
2) All farms with animals which are susceptible to liver fluke should have a control programme in place. This should be formulated in consultation with the farm’s veterinary surgeon and regularly reviewed and monitored to ensure that it is adequately controlling liver fluke on the farm.
3) Farmers are also advised to provide additional, good-quality feed to animals that have suffered liver damage as a result of fluke infection, particularly if they are pregnant or lactating.
4) AHVLA Scanning Surveillance Diagnoses in England and Wales:
|October – December inclusive|
|Acute fasciolosis in sheep||7||69|
|Chronic fasciolosis in sheep||19||73|
5) Further advice on prevention and treatment can also be obtained from the SCOPS website at this link: