Acute Liver Fluke Disease has been confirmed as the cause of numerous deaths amongst sheep in south west Scotland, despite flukecide treatment in October.
The alert has been issued by SAC Veterinary Investigation Centres in Ayr and Dumfries where sheep from eleven farms were examined in late December.
The size of the immature flukes recovered from affected livers suggests that exceptionally wet and mild weather in October allowed large numbers of fluke cysts to accumulate on pastures from mid-November. It is likely that sheep on many farms are at risk.
This form of the disease can cause sudden death due to severe liver damage. Affected sheep show signs of dullness, hanging back and gut pain. Farmers are warned to treat sheep for fluke in mid-January with a product active against immature flukes.
If losses do occur and/or clinical signs continue after treatment, casualties should be submitted to SAC Veterinary Centres for post mortem examination, as soon after death as possible.
Farmers are also advised to submit faecal samples to Veterinary Centres three weeks after treatment to check that flukes have been killed. Some flukes have now become resistant to treatment. Sheep at risk should also be vaccinated against Black Disease which, on some farms, can increase losses due to sudden death.
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