The risk of liver fluke across the country is high after a wet summer and autumn, the Department of Agriculutre has warned.
Weather data gathered by Met Éireann shows, despite an intitally drier start in May, values between June and September have elevated the risk, resulting in a widespread prevalence of the disease.
Blood samples collected by the Department from lambs born in 2020 show the level of exposure to liver fluke is highest in flocks along the western seaboard.
“By October, as well as a lot of positive and inconclusive results in counties on the western seaboard, there was substantial evidence of fluke exposure in lambs from the border areas, midlands and other parts of Leinster,” the Department said.
Information gathered on cattle slaughtered in factories this year shows an average of 51% of herds had at least one animal with liver damage due to fluke and live fluke parasites were seen in 14% of herds.
This year’s levels of liver fluke challenge are very similar to those reported in 2019 but in the second half of this year live liver fluke detections were higher than those seen last year, according to the Department.
The intermediate host of the liver fluke parasite, which is a mud snail, tends to be located in soil that is slightly acidic and muddy. Thus, areas of fields with rushes or wet patches around gates or troughs are particularly important with regard to liver fluke risk.
The Department advised that testing faecal samples for the presence of liver fluke eggs can help determine both the need and success of fluke dosing treatments.