Liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) infection caused weight loss, diarrhoea, decreased milk yield and occasionally death in cattle in East Anglia during the winters of 2001 to 2003. The condition had previously been limited mainly to stock imported into this part of Britain from endemically infected areas. In composite faecal samples collected by 16 farm animal veterinary practices in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, fluke eggs were found in 15 (28·8 per cent) of 52 previously unaffected suckler herds and 10 (16·7 per cent) of 60 dairy herds. Antibodies to F hepatica were detected by ELISA in 32 (53·3 per cent) of the bulk milk samples from these 60 dairy herds, including the 10 in which fluke eggs were found. The emergence of fasciolosis in East Anglia was attributed to recent higher summer rainfall, which favoured the intermediate snail host Lymnaea truncatula and the free-living stages of F hepatica, the increased influx of sheep from endemic fluke areas for seasonal grazing, and the wetter grazing conditions associated with the Environmentally Sensitive Area scheme.
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