The National Disease Information Service (NADIS) has warned of the risk of liver fluke disease in parts of the UK and has recommended that farmers take action now to protect their animals.

The National Disease Information Service (NADIS) has warned of the risk of liver fluke disease in parts of the UK and has recommended that farmers take action now to protect their animals.

NADIS reported high risk in northern and western Scotland, and a moderate risk in western England, Wales and eastern Scotland. Fluke counts are likely to rise as the winter progresses. Further, the Scottish Agricultural College reports that north east Scotland has a significant problem with the disease.

The Lancet liver fluke (Dicrocoelium dendriticum) is a parasite fluke that tends to live in cattle or other grazing mammals (from teaching slides at the University of Edinburgh).Sheila Rusbridge, centre manager of the SAC in Aberdeen, said: “When I came here 18 years ago fluke did not exist in cattle and sheep in north east Scotland, now it is quite prevalent.”

In other areas of the UK, reports from Welsh meat processors revealed a worrying increase in the number of cases of liver fluke detected in lambs that have been slaughtered recently – and experts are urging farmers to take action now to protect their animals.

A monthly Sheep Fluke Alert sent out to producers by Dunbia Wales due to the growing problems caused by liver fluke revealed that the company had to condemn 18% (11,708kg) of the livers from slaughtered lambs in August, up from 15% found during the same period in 2009.

In its September report, Dunbia Wales reported that the number of livers it had to condemn due to liver fluke damage jumped to 20%, compared with 18% in the same month last year. It warns that the latest statistics indicate a significant level of infection in ewes pre-tupping, which could lead to poor conception rates and lower scanning figurers later on.

Novartis Animal Health veterinary advisor Saul Harvey said: “Farmers must be on the look-out for the emergence of early immature fluke, especially after periods of heavy rain. They need to take action to protect their animals – and their profits – as soon as possible.”

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