Liver Fluke FINAL


Government & State Agencies Bord Bia Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) Teagasc

Dairy and Beef Processors ABP Ireland Arrabawn Co-op Carbery Group Connacht Gold Dairygold Dawn Meats Glanbia Kepak Group Kerry Agribusiness Lakeland Dairies Slaney Foods Tipperary Co-op

Liver Fluke - the facts

Town of Monaghan Co-Op Wexford Milk Producers

Farmers’ Organisations Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) Irish Charolais Cattle Society Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society (ICOS) Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Irish Holstein Friesian Association (IHFA) Irish Milk Quality Co-operative Society (IMQCS) Macra na Feirme Pedigree Cattle Breeders’ Council of Ireland Professional/ Advisory/ Support Services Cork Marts DAFM- Veterinary Lab Services ICBF Irish Dairy Board UCD Veterinary Ireland

Image courtesy of Dr Orcun Hacariz and Pablo D. Rojas, School of Agriculture Food and Veterinary Medicine, UCD.

Parasite Control Leaflet Series, Vol. 5, Ver. 2, May 2013

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Please refer to the disclaimer on the last page regarding information in this leaflet.

Introduction Liver fluke disease or fasciolosis is a parasitic disease of grazing animals caused by a flat worm (Fasciola hepatica) and is economically important in cattle, sheep and goats. Liver fluke disease causes annual losses estimated to be around €2.5 billion to livestock and food industries worldwide, and is estimated to cost at least €90M to the Irish industry. Economic losses caused by liver fluke are mainly associated with a decrease in meat and milk production. Depending on the degree of infection, liver fluke may cause a reduced meat production of up to 20% in cattle and up to 30% in sheep, and a reduction in milk production of up to 8% in cows. Fertility can suffer and beef cattle affected by fluke may take an extra 80 days to reach market weights. Losses also occur due to the number of livers condemned in meat plants as up to 50% of livers may be condemned. Severe infection may cause death due to anaemia in young animals, particularly in lambs. Liver fluke can occasionally result in sudden death by triggering certain clostridial diseases of cattle. More recently, evidence has emerged that liver fluke infection and may also exacerbate other infectious diseases such as salmonellosis and Tuberculosis. The prevalence of liver fluke infection has increased up to 12-fold in certain EU Member States (including Ireland) during recent years. Life Cycle Animals are infected by ingesting encapsulated larvae (metacercariae) on contaminated grass. Typically, individual farms will have wet “flukey areas” that should not be used or grazed at times of the year when metacercariae are likely to be present, i.e. late summer to winter (depending on climatic conditions). However, cattle and sheep often graze on such areas. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that liver fluke infection is absent from any area of Ireland.

Figure 1: Liver fluke life cycle

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Liver Fluke - the facts

Figure1 illustrates the life cycle of Liver fluke, which depends on an external host as well as cattle or sheep. In the bowel, the larvae are freed from the cysts, penetrate the intestinal wall and move to the liver. In the liver they travel for 8-12 weeks causing significant liver damage. Immature flukes reach the bile ducts where they mature into adults and in the absence of treatment, they may live for months in cattle and years in sheep, feeding on blood and producing thousands of eggs that are released with the bile into the small intestine, finally reaching the pasture in the faeces. In the egg, a small larval stage (miracidium) develops that, after leaving the egg, must penetrate a snail (the so-called liver fluke snail or mud snail). In the snail the larva grows via the sporocyst and redia stages. Finally 500-1000 larval stages (cercariae) leave the snail and settle on the grass as encapsulated infective larvae (metacercariae). What are the signs that liver fluke infectionmay be present in your herd? Animals may show a variety of obvious signs such as oedema (dropsy) under the jaw (bottle jaw), anaemia, poor coat condition and lack of appetite. Liver fluke infestation can cause decreased fertility and wool production. However, the animal with weight loss and bottle jaw represents the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Detection of Subclinical infection with its adverse effect on growth rate, milk yield and fertility requires diagnostic tests such as blood tests (elevated globulins,

low albumins, elevated GGT) and assessment of faecal egg counts. Diagnostic data relating to liver condemnation collected at abattoirs is invaluable and bulk milk testing may be used to confirm that infection is present in dairy herds, but the latter method should be backed up by faecal egg counting prior to initiation of a dosing programme. In Ireland, Liver fluke infection can be a problem all year round. However, most infections occur during the winter, as a result of infections acquired in the autumn from snails that build up over the summer on pastures. Occasionally, snails become infected in the autumn and may hibernate over winter. They will then shed infection onto the pasture the following spring thus infesting animals early in spring time. Most herds in Ireland show evidence of infection, with prevalence greatest in the West.

Mature Liver Flukes in Gall bladder of an infected animal

Recommendations for control

• Improve drainage and fence-off wet areas with poor drainage, where possible • Reasonable measures should be taken to prevent poaching and avoid grazing “flukey areas” particularly when metacercariae are likely to be present • Dose bought-in animals with an appropriate flukicide before introducing to pastures. All bought-in animals should be quarantined for at least 4 weeks after arriving on farm - see the AHI Biosecurity Purchasing Stock Guidelines for more information on quarantining of newly arrived animals. • A strategic dose, in early- mid summer, designed to reduce the number of snails becoming infected, is also recommended • Fluke burdens can be monitored by using a combination of faecal egg counts, bulk milk ELISA and data relating to liver condemnations from the factory. Discuss these results with your vet to ensure your control strategy is effective and appropriate. • Dose animals, where possible, at housing, and if required, again 4-6 weeks after housing- refer to the AHI leaflet ‘Parasite Control at Housing’ for more information on treatment at this time. • Treatment of dairy cattle is a particular problem. Dosing with an authorized product during the dry period should be considered. See below regarding withholding periods. • Heed the annual DAFM liver fluke forecast, issued in autumn each year

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Liver Fluke - the facts

Bulk Milk Testing Bulk Milk ELISA Testing may be used as an additional surveillance tool on dairy farms- but the data needs to be interpreted carefully in association with other diagnostic information on farm such as results from faecal testing and details on liver condemnations from the farm. Is Resistance a Problem? The control of liver fluke in livestock is mainly based on the use of drugs (flukicides), either preventively/routinely, as well as in the treatment of individual clinical cases. Table 1 gives a listing of drugs licensed for control of liver fluke in cattle in Ireland. The inappropriate use or overuse of some flukicides such as triclabendazole has led to the emergence of resistant strains of F. hepatica, this has been reported in several countries including Ireland, the Netherlands and the U.K. Therefore, annual rotation of anthelmintics, plus post-treatment assessment of effectiveness of dosing should form part of fluke control programmes. Consult with your own veterinary practitioner as to the best strategy for your farm. Withdrawal Periods In all cases, milk and milk withdrawal periods must be strictly observed. Be particularly aware of flukicide restrictions in milking cows and heifers due to produce milk for human consumption.

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Liver Fluke - the facts






Triclabendazole* *



















* The IMB in March 2010 ruled that “Veterinary medicines containing these substances should not be used in dairy animals intended for milk production, including pregnant heifers intended for milk production for human consumption.” This ruling may change. Please consult for further updates. Combination products are also available on the market targeting a combination of fluke and worms. ** Some formulations have now been approved for use in cows producing milk for human consumption. Table 1: examples of drugs useful in control of liver fluke in cattle

TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP Michael Doherty (Chairperson) - University College Dublin School of Veterinary Medicine; Mícheál Casey - DAFM Regional Veterinary Laboratory, Backweston; Bosco Cowley - MSD Animal Health; Martin Danaher - Teagasc Food Research Centre Ashtown; Dr. Theo de Waal - University College Dublin School of Veterinary Medicine; June Fanning - DAFM Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, Backweston; Andrew Forbes - Merial, Lyon, France; Barbara Good - Teagasc, Athenry; Fintan Graham - Veterinary Practitioner; Ian Hogan - DAFM, Veterinary Laboratory Services; Grace Mulcahy - University College Dublin School of Veterinary Medicine; Tom Murphy - Central Veterinary Research INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY All images contained in this leaflet are the property of AHI, or have been included with the permission of the owner. Please seek permission from AHI if you wish to use these images and provide the correct attribution of ownership when reproducing them. If reusing any other material in this leaflet, please attribute AHI as the source. Fasciola hepatica (liverfluke) image courtesy of Dr Orcun Hacariz and Pablo D. Rojas, School of Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Medicine, UCD. Image of liver flukes in gallbladder courtesy This leaflet is issued and shall be read only on the basis that it will not relied upon by any person as a basis for any act or omission or otherwise without obtaining professional veterinary and health and safety verification and advice and that no liability or responsibility to any person is accepted or shall be incurred, and no recourse or claim by any person will be made, by or against AHI,any stakeholder, collaborator, officer, agent, subcontractor or employee of AHI, any member of the Technical Working Group, any contributor to, author, publisher, distributor, of Donal Toolan, Kilkenny RVL, DAFM. IMPORTANT NOTICE - DISCLAIMER

Laboratory, Backweston; Riona Sayers - Teagasc; Donal Toolan - DAFM Regional Veterinary Laboratory, Kilkenny; June Fanning - Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, Backweston DAFM, Technical Working GROUP RAPPORTEUR Fionnuala Malone , Animal Health Ireland. PEER REVIEW BY Professor Bob Hanna, Veterinary Sciences Division, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Stormont; Dr. Jason Barley, Veterinary Sciences Division, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Stormont. reviewer,compiler or promoter of or any other person in respect of or in connection with the leaflet or the contents thereof or any matter omitted therefrom. No representation or guarantee is given, whether by AHI or any other such person, that the contents of this information leaflet are comprehensive, up to date, or free from error or omissions, nor that the advice provided is appropriate in every particular circumstance. The contents of this information leaflet are not intended to be a substitute for appropriate direct advice from your veterinary practitioner. Appropriate veterinary and health and safety advice should be taken before taking or refraining from taking action in relation to the animal disease dealt with in this information leaflet. The contents of this leaflet may be updated, corrected, varied or superseded from to time by later publications or material on the AHI website and reference should be made to that website accordingly. Any references in this booklet or links in the AHI website to external websites or other resources are provided for convenience only and the contents thereof are not to be considered as endorsed thereby.

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