New rapid diagnostic test developed for liver fluke

The new tool will provide rapid results, allowing farmers to make more informed decisions
The new tool will provide rapid results, allowing farmers to make more informed decisions

A new rapid diagnostic test has been developed which will enable diagnosis of liver fluke exposure in livestock in 10 minutes.

Prevalent in over 70 countries and a common parasite affecting UK cattle and sheep, liver fluke is estimated to cause over $3.2bn in livestock production losses.

Current liver fluke diagnostic tests require laboratory analysis, with typical wait time of week or more for results.

Together with the impracticalities of regathering livestock, many tend to treat without diagnosis, contributing to the development of resistance to flukicide drugs.

This could change thanks to a collaboration between rapid diagnostic technology firm Mologic Ltd and the University of Liverpool.

They have developed a pen-diagnostic test for the common agricultural parasite, and the project is now in the final development stages.

The test detects antibodies circulating in the blood of fluke-infected animals through a blood droplet taken from the ear.

Results are available within 10 minutes to allow farmers to make an informed diagnosis and treat at the point of need.

Dr Alison Wakeham, project leader at Mologic, said: “In fluke endemic areas, industry practice is often to treat in the absence of any diagnosis.

"As seen with antibiotics, an overreliance on flukicides gives rise to anthelmintic resistance and poses a significant threat and constraint to livestock production.

"Farm testing offers the industry a cost-effective route to early diagnosis and an on-the-spot targeted treatment.

"A positive outcome for the animal, the producer, the processor and the consumer.”

To gain further insight to how a pen-side diagnostic test for liver fluke should function, the team have launched a short market research survey.

They are looking for views from the farming industry, with a deadline set for 10 January 2021.