Friday 20th December 2019 – No embargo



Friday 20th December 2019– no embargo
Warning for cattle and sheep farmers that rafoxanide is not an appropriate alternative to closantel when treating liver fluke
With liver fluke shaping up to be a significant challenge this winter, livestock farmers are being warned to be on their guard and monitor the situation carefully. Farmers, SQPs, vets and advisors are also being urged to be careful with the very limited number of different flukicide products, as reports of resistance to triclabendazole continue to increase.
Speaking on behalf of SCOPS, Lesley Stubbings says: “Choice of treatment is extremely important, and SCOPS and COWS are committed to providing clear advice on the options available. As part of this commitment, we are aware there has been misunderstanding with respect to two veterinary medicines that are not currently authorised in the UK, but which have been imported from the Republic of Ireland under a Special Import Certificate from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, for use on some UK farms.
“These veterinary medicines both contain the active substance rafoxanide, and it is apparent there is significant confusion around rafoxanide, especially with respect to using it as an alternative to closantel on farms where triclabendazole resistance is proven. SCOPS and COWS have therefore updated their respective websites to provide clear information to sheep and cattle farmers.”
The SCOPS-COWS statement on rafoxanide makes it clear that this is not a new flukicide or a different class to closantel and, moreover, there is evidence of cross-resistance between rafoxanide and closantel from both field and laboratory studies.
Speaking on behalf of COWS, Professor Diana Williams adds: “This is extremely important because it means there is no evidence to suggest using closantel and rafoxanide interchangeably/on a rotational basis will successfully reduce the selection pressure for resistance to closantel. Indeed, there is a serious risk that such use of rafoxanide will hasten the development of resistance to closantel.”
“It would be fantastic for both sheep and cattle farmers if rafoxanide was a new active against fluke, and we’d be shouting about it loud and clear if it was. Unfortunately that is not the case and we do not want people working in the livestock industry to mistakenly think the two products containing rafoxanide are ‘silver bullets’, when in fact their overuse could do more harm than good.”
SCOPS and COWS urge farmers, their vets and other advisors to heed this new advice and take on board the latest information. Clear information is available on both the website about the importance of diagnostic testing before treatment, different flukicide products available, the age of fluke those products target, and the appropriate time of year to use them.
Notes to editors: -
  • This press release is issued by National Sheep Association (NSA) on behalf of SCOPS and COWS. For more information contact Katie James, NSA Communications Officer, on 01684 892661 or
  • SCOPS is an industry led group that works in the interest of the UK sheep industry. It recognises that, left unchecked, anthelmintic resistance is one of the biggest challenges to the future health and profitability of the sector. Find out more at
  • COWS is a voluntary initiative aiming to provide the best available, evidence-based information to the beef and dairy cattle industries in relation to the sustainable control of both internal and external parasites. Find out more at
This press release was circulated on behalf of SCOPS by National Sheep Association (NSA) and the information contained is intended for the named recipient and may be privileged or confidential. If you receive this email in error please notify the NSA immediately on 01684 892661. Delete it immediately from your computer. Do not copy it, distribute it or take any action based on the information contained in it. Neither the NSA nor the sender accepts any liability for any direct, indirect or consequential loss arising from any action taken in reliance on the information contained in this email and gives no warranty or representation as to its accuracy or reliability. Nor does the NSA accept any liability for viruses which may be transmitted by it. It is your responsibility to scan the e-mail and its attachments (if any) for viruses. The NSA may monitor and read both incoming and outgoing e-mail communications to protect its legitimate interests.
NSA, a Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered in England. Registration No. 37818. Registered charity in England and Wales (249255) and in Scotland (SC042853).