Department of Agriculture warns farmers of escalating risk of liver fluke

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has warned of a high risk of liver fluke infection in livestock in counties with an Atlantic coastline in the North West, West and South, and a moderate risk in the East of the country.

The variation in risk of infection arises from a significantly greater number of days of rain in the Atlantic coastal counties, relative to the counties in the east, this summer and autumn.

June was quite a dry month this year in most parts of the country; however, July and August had sufficient days of rainfall to again provide suitable conditions for propagation of the snail intermediate host.

The Department says that, though “there has been relatively low incidence of acute deaths in sheep caused by liver fluke diagnosed in the DAFM Regional Veterinary Laboratories during the first 10 months of the year relative to previous years (such as 2012), owners should remain alert for the later onset of liver fluke disease during the remainder of the autumn and the winter months”.

The Department of Agriculture stated: “Farmers should continue to be vigilant for any sign of illness, ill-thrift or mortality in their stock and should consult with their veterinary practitioner for diagnosis of liver fluke infection or other cause(s) of these clinical signs.

"Information from abattoir examination of livers of previously sold fattened stock would also be a valuable source of information to inform stock owners of the incidence of liver fluke infection on their own farm or of the efficacy of their control program.”

The department advises: “In areas of high risk and on farms where liver fluke infection has been diagnosed or there is a prior history, livestock owners should consult with their veterinary practitioner to devise an appropriate control or prevention program for liver fluke infection for their livestock.”

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