Vets are being warned about the “very high” prevalence of liver fluke disease across the UK in the latest National Animal Disease Information Service parasite forecast.
Vets are being warned about the “very high” prevalence of liver fluke disease across the UK in the latest National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS) parasite forecast.
According to the September forecast, the risk of the disease is particularly high in western England, Wales, the midlands and most of Scotland following the extremely wet conditions seen in these parts of the country.
However, Merial Animal Health’s veterinary adviser Fiona MacGillivray warned that, even when fluke is present and affecting performance, there may not be any obvious signs of infection in cattle.
“Calves that aren’t growing well or are sick should be examined by a vet,” said Ms MacGillivray. “Unless acute disease is suspected or diagnosed in cattle, a flukicide that acts against late immature and adult fluke stages should be selected, such as closantel, clorsulon or nitroxynil, for treatment in the autumn and winter months.”
Ms MacGillivray also warned of possible resistance to anthelmintics in parts of the UK.
“There have been increasing levels of suspected resistance to triclabendazole in some areas of the country,” she said. “Using alternative flukicide treatments in cattle, who tend to suffer from a more chronic form of fluke infection, should help to reduce the possibility of resistance development.”
The forecast also stated that there have been several cases of cattle lungworm reported in August, despite September usually being the peak month for diagnoses of this disease. This is believed to be due to thunderstorms and the breaking up of faecal pats, which releases larvae. This causes a rapid increase in pasture infectivity, which can lead to disease and production losses.
According to the forecast, calves in their first grazing season and, in the case of spring-born suckled calves, those from the second grazing season may be at risk. Adult cattle that have not built up immunity through natural challenge in previous years are also susceptible to lungworm.
Ms MacGillivray said: “If cattle are coughing at rest and have an increased breathing rate they should be examined for the presence of lungworm. As soon as disease is confirmed it is important to treat all animals in the group as they too will have been exposed to the parasite and may be suffering damage to the lung tissue.”
Visit www.nadis.org.uk to see the full NADIS Parasite Forecast.