Liver fluke infection in cattle

Liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) is a leaf-shaped parasite which lives in the liver and bile ducts of infected cattle. Sheep, rabbits, deer and horses can also host the parasite.

The liver fluke life cycle involves a free-living stage which depends on the presence of an intermediate host, a mud snail. The seasonal nature of liver fluke infection results from infective larvae being shed by snails onto pasture primarily during late summer and early autumn. Cattle grazing over the autumn are at risk of ingesting larvae over a prolonged period and developing chronic disease which becomes evident in late winter and early spring.

With the effects of infection on growth rate and milk yield estimated to cost the UK cattle industry up to £40.4 million annually, effective and sustainable parasite control within herds is essential. A multidisciplined approach involving strategic flukicide product choice to reduce pasture contamination and drug resistance, alongside pasture management to restrict cattle access to snail habitats and quarantine of new stock with unknown infection status is recommended.

Adult liver fluke can be larger than a 5 pence piece

    Cows Resources

  1. Integrated parasite control on cattle farms (COWS Guide, June 2020)
  2. Control of liver and rumen fluke in cattle (COWS Guide, January 2020)
  3. Flukicide product table (COWS Guide, Sept 2017)
  4. COWS guide to liver fluke (COWS Leaflet)
  5. Integrated parasite control on cattle farms (COWS Guide, Nov 2014)
  6. Closing the knowledge gap on rumen fluke (COWS Article, Sept 2017)
  7. COWS guide to managing liver fluke in bought-in cattle (COWS leaflet)

    External Resources

  1. Joint Statement from NOAH and the VMD on the use of flukicides in dairy cattle (November 2020)
  2. Fasciolosis caused by Fasciola hepatica - an increasing concern (Slide presentation by Professor Diana Williams, University of Liverpool)
  3. Liver fluke an overview for practitioners (Scientific paper by Professor Diana Williams, University of Liverpool)
  4. Diagnosis of Fasciola hepatica in livestock (Scientific slide presentation by Johannes Charlier, Ghent University)
  5. Update on rumen fluke and 'other' fluke in UK livestock (Slide presentation by Dr Philip Skuce, Moredun Group March 2013)
  6. Fasciola hepatica vaccine update (Scientific slide presentation by Professor Grace Mulcahy, UCD Dublin)
  7. Taking Action To Tackle Liver Fluke in Sheep and Cattle - Outputs from Workshop (Workshop notes, March 2013)