Factsheets - Sheep & Beef
The following fact sheets have been prepared by Anexa FVC Veterinarians as a guide to topics of interest. For specific information please contact your local vet.

Is Liver fluke affecting your stock?

Is Liver fluke affecting your stock?
The Liver fluke parasite is a major cause of chronic wasting in both cattle and sheep in New Zealand. Infection can occur at any time during the year but is most prevalent during the spring and wet summers, with effects seen during the rest of the year.

The immature stages of this parasite require an intermediate host to develop. In New Zealand, the main host is a snail called Lymnaea columella, which inhabits ponds and marshes and even on irrigated pasture. Stock ingest the immature parasite from forage, on which it can survive for over one year! Once in the animal, the immature fluke migrates through and feed off the liver, before developing into adult fluke in the bile ducts. This causes massive inflammation of the liver, with loss of blood and protein, resulting in production loss through ill-thrift, anaemia and anorexia.

Most white drenches will kill the mature flukes, but the immature flukes will survive and continue causing damage. It is important to use a product that kills the immature flukes during the maximum risk period in autumn and early winter e.g. Flukecare oral or Fasinex 10 oral in sheep and Flukecare oral or Nitromec injection in cattle. If treatment is given after temperatures drop consistently below 10C, when the snail becomes inactive, then the effect of the drench will be prolonged.

The real prevalence of this parasite in New Zealand is unknown, although we know it appears to be increasing. We do have some funding available to look at antibody levels in blood, which is a good indication of exposure. If you are worried about liver fluke in cattle or sheep, contact your local Vet to discuss the best way to investigate and treat this issue.

* Image sourced from http://www.scops.org.uk/endoparasites-liver-fluke.html

Date Added: Wednesday, 20th April 2016


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