For the past couple of years there have been increasing reports of a new parasite which is infecting Britain’s grazing livestock.
Clinical Signs Of Rumen Fluke
Rumen fluke in low numbers will not cause any significant disease, but if many fluke larvae are eaten by cattle or sheep in a short space of time then disease is possible. The disease, which can be fatal, often presents with the following clinical signs:
- Rapid weight loss
- Watery scour with or without blood
- Bottle jaw
- Pale mucous membranes
These signs are not specific to rumen fluke though, and can also be seen with gut worms, liver fluke and Johne’s infection amongst other things.
Treatment Of Rumen Fluke
Oxyclozanide (Zanil) is the only drug that will successfully treat rumen fluke. The disease is still rare, so seek veterinary advice before treating. As there is only one treatment available, we must be very careful not to treat when it is not necessary.
To aid diagnosis we can send a muck sample to the lab to check for eggs, but the disease can be present even if there are no eggs in the faeces.
Rumen fluke, in the same way as liver fluke, lives for part of its life cycle in a small mud snail. This means that all areas where snails will thrive, i.e. waterlogged fields, boggy areas or ditches are all high-risk areas for cattle grazing. The risk of fluke infection is increased in years with warm, wet summers.
Rumen fluke affects sheep and cattle in the same way and can easily be spread between the two species. If you are concerned about rumen fluke, have a chat with your vet next time they are on farm or call the practice on 01332 294929.