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Minister issues advice on liver fluke

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food today issued advice to farmers in relation to liver fluke disease in livestock based on advice it has received from the Liver Fluke Advisory Group.

The available information is that there is an increased risk of liver fluke throughout the country this year mainly due to the wet weather conditions that prevailed during the summer months that were suitable for the propagation of the snail intermediate host and production of the infective stage of the liver fluke on all types of pasture.

The Advisory Group has advised that farmers should treat cattle and sheep as follows:

Where cattle are routinely housed on farms in late autumn, the timing of the administration of the fluke dose after the animals are housed depends on the type of flukicide used. However, on farms where cattle are kept outdoors on pasture for the winter, treatment should be carried out immediately and these animals may also need a further treatment in the new year. Treatment of dairy cows for liver fluke is best carried out after drying off and not during lactation. As regards sheep, the advice is that they should be dosed now especially on those farms with a history of liver fluke. In general, further treatments, usually in January and April, are necessary for sheep that are out-wintered. All bought-in cattle and sheep should be kept isolated and dosed with an anthelmintic and flukicide before being allowed to join the main herd or flock. The Advisory Group has also advised that farmers should submit faecal samples from a representative number of treated animals (not less than 5) to the Department's local Regional Veterinary Laboratory at least three weeks after treatment to check efficacy of the anthelmintic used.

The Department indicated that the foregoing information is based on a disease forecast model that uses weather data collected during the summer and autumn at Met Éireann weather stations across the country. Information on the liver fluke situation in Northern Ireland, contained in the Liver Fluke Forecast 2007 issued by the Agri Food and Biosciences Institute, Northern Ireland was also used.

29 November, 2007

Notes for Editors

1. The Liver Fluke Advisory Group includes experts from the Central Veterinary Laboratory, Teagasc, Met Éireann, Pharmaceutical Industry and the School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin.

2. Further information on liver fluke and its control and prevention is available from Teagasc.

3. The Central Veterinary Laboratory, Backweston, Celbridge, Co Kildare and the Regional Veterinary Laboratories can help veterinary practitioners and farmers by testing dung and blood samples for evidence of fluke eggs, antibodies and associated liver damage as well as monitoring the efficacy of anthelmintic treatment.

Date Released: 29 November 2007