21 Nov 2023

Liver Fluke in Dairy Cows

The warm and wet conditions of this Autumn could potentially see a rise in cases of liver fluke.  The parasitic infection is caused by Fasciola Hepatica which has a complex lifecycle, with infection to clinical signs slow to develop in cattle.  The life cycle of Fasciola Hepatica involves water snails and is more common in warm and wet conditions. There can be a long lag time from infection to clinical presentation of the disease due to the development of the parasite.

Cattle ingest the parasite at grazing. Active migration of the parasite in the cow can cause substantial liver damage and abdominal trauma. This can manifest as poor growth rates/productivity, diarrhoea and wasting.

There are many ways to identify a liver fluke infection for both diagnostic and monitoring purposes.  This can be done by individual animal serology/milk testing, faecal testing, bulk milk testing, abattoir reports and clinical suspicion.  CIS provide bulk milk testing for liver fluke to gauge the level of antibodies in a herd.

Herd management strategies should target limiting exposure to infection as a key component of control of liver fluke.  A bulk milk sample, taken quarterly, can be used to establish the current herd situation and more importantly the current trends of infection and help determine when treatments are necessary.

Learn more about Liver Fluke by viewing the CIS Health Testing Webinar that provides insight into cattle health testing for Liver Fluke by Dan Humphries MRCVS of Dairy Insight. https://youtu.be/qelyI5WwfIk

The Cattle Information Service (CIS) offer several health testing services. For further information contact your local CIS Area Manager, Amanda Wilkes on 07921 452789.