Farmers are being warned about a “very high” prevalence of liver fluke disease across the UK in the latest National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS) Parasite Forecast.
It advises that the risk of the disease is particularly high in western England, Wales, the Midlands and most of Scotland, thanks to wet conditions.
Fiona MacGillivray, Merial Animal Health’s Veterinary Adviser, says that even when fluke is present and affecting performance, there may not be any obvious signs of fluke infection in cattle.
“Calves that aren’t growing well or are sick should be examined by a vet. 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.
“There have been increasing levels of suspected resistance to triclabendazole in some areas of the country. 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,” says Fiona.
Fluke control programs should be devised on an individual farm basis as part of a veterinary health plan. These programmes need to consider farm, field and animal history along with farm topography and location.
September is usually the peak month for diagnoses of cattle lungworm and there have been several reports of cases already. Thunderstorms break up faecal pats and release larvae, which causes a rapid increase in pasture infectivity. This in turn can lead to disease and production losses.
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.
“If cattle are coughing at rest and have an increased breathing rate they should be examined for the presence of lungworm" said Fiona.
Detecting the presence of larvae in faeces can be easily done by your veterinary practice with results available within 24 hours. As soon as disease is confirmed it is important to treat all animals in the group, even those who do not appear to have any symptoms, as they too will have been exposed to the parasite and may be suffering damage to the lung tissue.”
An increase in parasitic gastroenteritis (PGE) in growing cattle is also to be expected this year, according to NADIS, if strategic worming control measures have not been taken.
Fiona says: “Unless strategic anthelmintic regimes are in place, susceptible calves like autumn-born suckled beef calves or dairy calves at grass for the first time on contaminated fields will pass eggs
from infections picked up in the spring.
“The use of some wormers which have a narrower spectrum of persistent activity against gutworms, such as moxidectin-based products, may result in a build-up of those parasites on pastures as the season progresses.”