Autumn Peak Time For Liver Fluke: Treat Your Herds Today

North Coast Local Land Services is reminding livestock owners that Autumn is the most important time of year to treat animals for liver fluke.

Liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) is a widespread parasite of the North Coast Region, particularly in high rainfall, swampy or poorly drained areas.

The disease can lead to poor growth rates, reduced milk production and even death in susceptible animals such as sheep, goats, camelids and cattle.  It also has an economic cost to the meat industry due to condemned livers.

Damage may be caused by the immature stages of the fluke migrating through the animal's liver. These immatures develop into adults that suck blood from the lining of the bile ducts, causing significant blood loss and liver damage in heavy infestations. Death usually occurs due to blood loss from haemorrhage within the liver.

Clinical signs indicating animals have Liver Fluke include:

  • bottle jaw (swelling of the tissues below the jaw)
  • weight loss or failure to gain weight
  • jaundice (yellowing of mucous membranes such as gums, eyelid conjunctiva and vagina)
  • anaemia (loss of red blood cells characterised by paleness of mucous membranes as above)

“The good news is that there are several effective flukicides that target different stages of liver fluke infestation,” said North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian Jocelyn Todd.

Now is the time to treat animals to eliminate infestations picked up during summer and spring, Local Land Services is recommending all classes of stock are drenched for liver fluke with an effective product, containing Triclabendazole or Nitroxynil, to target both immature and adult fluke.

“Products vary in their suitability for different species and classes, and have variable withhold periods, so be sure to read the label before treating,” Jocelyn said.

Jocelyn said, “There is some resistance forming to Triclabendazole, if you use a product with this ingredient and don't see symptoms improve, consider further testing to assess its effectiveness.“ Many tests for liver fluke infestation are available.

Other control options for liver fluke include:

  • fencing to exclude some or all livestock from swampy areas
  • quarantine and drench all animals that come from a liver fluke area
  • grazing management of swampy areas only by less-susceptible stock (adult cattle)

For more information on identifying and controlling liver fluke on your property, please contact your North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian on 1300 795 299 or your local vet.


Media contact: Emily Findlay North Coast Local Land Services, 0419221136

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