Closing the knowledge gap on rumen fluke
10 July 2017
Traditionally regarded as being of minor importance
in Europe, recent evidence suggests that the prevalence of rumen fluke
infection is increasing in parts of the UK.
quantifiable figures of the exact impact to animal health, welfare and
farm profits unknown, there appears to be a significant gap in the
understanding of this parasite.
This knowledge gap has
prompted a three-year study to promote a better understanding about the
parasite and its exact impact on animal health and welfare.
Jason Rankin, COWS (Control of Worms Sustainably) representative and
general manager at Agrisearch, explains that historically liver fluke
has been the main focus for producers.
years however, there has been an increase in the incidence of rumen
fluke infection, resulting in acute disease and death in young cattle,”
says Mr Rankin.
“One contributing factor for this may
be the changing weather patterns we’ve seen. The warm wet summers and
mild winters are known to favour an increase in the number of snails,
which act as the intermediate host, and facilitate the completion of the
rumen fluke life cycle.
“Nevertheless, this theory has
not been thoroughly investigated in the UK, hence the lack of industry
knowledge about how to manage and control the parasite,” he adds.
“What remains unclear is to what extent rumen fluke infection can impair
the animal in terms of causing pain, distress and the effect it has on
the animal’s metabolic status and behaviour.”
study, a major collaboration between Agrisearch, AHDB Beef and Lamb,
AFBI and Queens University Belfast, will aim to determine the prevalence
and distribution of rumen fluke in the UK, quantify the impact of rumen
fluke infection on animal welfare and performance, while enabling the
development of tools to aid early diagnosis.
“A lot of
information is known about liver fluke, and there are several
anthelmintics which are effective against its infection. But, only one
anthelmintic is effective against rumen fluke, and there are no
authorised veterinary medicinal products in the UK indicated for the use
against rumen fluke,” says Mr Rankin.
“We are at risk
that with limited options to control rumen fluke, over or improper use
of the only available anthelmintic could lead to the development of
“This is why it’s vital to
correctly diagnose the type of parasite infecting an animal, which this
research hopes to achieve, so that the right anthelmintic can be used,
in line with the COWS best practice principles.
you are concerned that rumen fluke may be an issue on-farm, talk to your
vet, SQP, farm adviser or veterinary pharmacist,” he says.
For more information on the sustainable control of cattle parasites,
please visit the COWS website at
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This study is being funded by the
Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council, Agrisearch and AHDB Beef
Notes to editors:
Issued by: Rosie Hopkins, Pinstone Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Control of Worms Sustainably (COWS) is an
industry led steering group which aims to promote best practice in the
control of cattle parasites.
Since the COWS initiative
was started in 2010, they have been providing accurate, evidence-based
information to the cattle industry in relation to the sustainable
control of parasites in cattle.
For more information