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Liver fluke is known to cause severe clinical disease and death, costing the sheep industry alone millions of pounds every year. Now spreading to new regions liver fluke can increasingly be found throughout the UK, largely due to the impact of climate change. All these factors favour liver fluke:

  • Warmer temperatures throughout the year.
  • Increased rainfall in autumn and winter.
  • Dry eastern areas becoming wetter. East Anglia and south east Scotland can no longer be regarded as safe.
  • Flooding moving snails infected by the parasite into new areas.
  • Increased movement of liver fluke infected animals around the country.
  • Resistance to some commonly used flukicides.

Due to this lengthening of seasons, and the impact of warm, wet weather on the liver fluke lifecycle, the liver fluke challenge can now be higher for a longer period with the risk of high fluke burdens in both sheep and cattle extending throughout the year if not treated effectively.

Liver fluke

Resistance to certain active ingredients has been identified on a number of farms. Once liver fluke have become resistant to an active ingredient, and can survive exposure to a treatment that would normally kill them, there is no evidence to suggest they will return to susceptibility. As individuals, and as an industry, we can’t afford to allow this to happen. To achieve effective control now – and to preserve the efficacy of the existing active ingredients for the future – we need to adopt a new approach to liver fluke management. 4 elements of sustainable liver fluke control:

  • Pasture protection – to prevent liver fluke eggs reaching the pasture when snails are active.
  • Pasture management – to reduce snail habitats and therefore reduce snail numbers.
  • Grazing management – to avoid grazing high risk pastures with susceptible animals at high risk times of year.
  • Strategic treatments for at risk animals – using the right product at the right time in the right animals.