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Editorial
Control of liver fluke: an emerging issue in terms of veterinary residues
  1. Jonathan M. E. Statham, MA, VetMB, DCHP, MRCVS
  1. Bishopton Veterinary Group, Mill Farm, Ripon, North Yorkshire, UK e-mail: jonathan.statham@bishoptonvets.co.uk

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VETERINARY medicines of many varieties play an important role in supporting healthy livestock in the fight against disease. With weather patterns changing due to climate change perhaps some of the most important medicines are those used to treat parasitic diseases. With few alternative methods available reliance on medicinal-control using anthelmintics is ever increasing.

It is vital to achieve the right balance between supporting the availability of critical veterinary medicines, such as flukicides, for a sustainably productive and welfare friendly livestock industry while preventing unacceptable levels of residues from those medicines entering the food chain.

Fasciolosis caused by liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) is a widespread parasitic disease in ruminant livestock (Mezo and others 2011). Liver fluke is found to be endemic in many parts of the UK, especially wetter regions, such as Wales and north-west England (McCann and others 2010). However, the incidence of fasciolosis in cattle and sheep has been increasing over the past decade (Anon 2013) and in England prevalence has been shown to have increased from an estimated 48 per cent in 2003 to 72 per cent in 2006/07 (McCann and others 2010). Fig 1 illustrates the significance of the emerging challenge, with approximately 16 per cent of all diagnosable conditions submitted to the then Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) in 2013 recorded as fasciolosis (Anon 2014).

FIG 1:

Incidents of fasciolosis in cattle in Great Britian as percentage of diagnosable conditions

Complex relationships exist between endemic diseases such as fasciolosis and food productivity; for example, liver fluke can affect youngstock and adult stock in beef and dairy herds, consequently greenhouse gas emissions from the cattle livestock sector are significantly affected by fasciolosis with changes in the fixed outputs in kilograms of milk or beef produced. Control of fasciolosis is therefore critically important in the mitigation of …

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