Thursday, May 28

Livestock Specialist Sounds Alert on Liver Fluke Infection

Baton Rouge, La - With pastures so wet and grass a little short early in the growing season, producers should be watching for signs of liver fluke infections, said David Fernandez, Cooperative Extension Program livestock specialist at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

While rarely fatal in cattle, flukes can cause death in small ruminants such as goat and sheep. Liver flukes reduce the value of a carcass thus lowering prices producers receive, he added.

Liver flukes are flatworms that invade the liver of livestock and cause liver damage. Liver flukes have a two-host life cycle. The eggs only hatch in water, so in wet years like this one, there are more problems with flukes, Fernandez said. The larvae infect a snail where they develop and reproduce asexually. The larvae then exit the snail and encyst on nearby vegetation. When livestock eat the vegetation, they become infected.

How to reduce liver fluke infections:

·       Keep livestock out of areas where water accumulates
·       Avoid pasturing animals in areas with snails in the grass
·       Mow pastures to remove cysts as encysted fluke larvae can remain viable for months if they do not dry out.

Treatment options include: clorsulon, found in Ivomec Plus dewormer, and albendazole (Valbazen) in the United States. Treat animals before the rainy seasons begin, such as fall or late spring in Arkansas. This can help reduce the number of eggs laid on pastures and reduce the chance of infection, said Dr. Fernandez. Be sure to follow label instructions as Valbazen should not be given to pregnant animals. Neither Valbazen nor Ivomec Plus is labeled for use in lactating animals. Both have long withdrawal periods before slaughter.

For full detail, visit the Cattle Network online.

Liver fluke is caused by a parasite Fasciloa hepatica. Diagnosis of liver fluke is often confused with other conditions such as poor nutrition. According to the Cattle Site, All grazing cattle are susceptible to liver fluke, although wet areas hold higher risk. Common symptoms include: condemnation of livers; reduced live weight gains through reduced feed conversion efficiency; reduced milk yield; reduced fertility; anemia; and diarrhea. Liver fluke is not infectious.


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