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Liver Fluke Disease in Cattle on the North Coast

Liver FlukeThere have been several confirmed clinical cases of liver fluke in cattle in the Casino region recently and reports of large numbers of liver condemnations at the processing level.

Recent warm and moist conditions have been favorable to the snails that are the intermediate host and an essential factor in the liver fluke's life cycle. This has seen increased pasture contamination with the encysted metacercariae. These cysts are ingested by cattle and the immature fluke are then released into the intestine and eventually migrate to the liver.  

Acute signs of liver fluke infection in cattle can range from no obvious symptoms to severe hemorrhage and death. Black Disease is an acute fatal liver disease of cattle indirectly caused by liver fluke which can be prevented by the effective administration of a 5-in-1 vaccine.

The most significant disease seen in cattle is due to the chronic form of the disease. Animals with Chronic Fasciolosis display a progressive loss of body condition and weakness associated with the accumulation of adult flukes in the bile ducts and gall bladder. The fluke ingests the cow's blood which produces severe anemia. Animals develop pale mucous membranes and some animals develop the classic "bottle jaw" appearance due to an accumulation of fluid under their jaw.

Dairy cows can have a reduction in milk yield and quality. In beef herds a chronic infestation exacerbates the increased metabolic demands of late pregnancy and can cause the birth of weakly calves to cows with little milk.

Liz Bolin, a North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian said, "The best way of controlling liver fluke in your herd is implementing a preventative program that takes into account the different life stages of the fluke organism."

For more information about the control of this parasite in your beef or dairy herd contact your North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian.

Photo caption:          Liver fluke in a bile duct
Media contact:            Elizabeth Bolin Phone 0412 303 907