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Fluke warning for farms

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale

FARMERS in South West Scotland should plan for a high risk year for liver fluke, SRUC vets have warned.

The combination of a wet September and higher than usual numbers of mud snails infected with the fluke parasite means farmers should take steps now to minimise the impact on their stock.
*Mud snails, living in boggy or wet areas, play an essential part of the life cycle of the liver fluke parasite. The eggs produced by adult flukes pass out in the animal’s dung, hatch into larvae and live inside the snails for a while before emerging to stick onto blades of grass where they form cysts, ready to be eaten by livestock.
Dumfries-based SRUC Vet Heather Stevenson said: “September is proving to be a wet month – as much rain fell in Dumfries on September 8/9 as for the whole of September 2015. Increased areas of wet ground can lead to an increase in mud snail numbers.
“In addition, our recent snail count in the local area showed 20 per cent of them to be infected with the fluke parasite, compared to four per cent at the same time last year.
“Our current advice would therefore be to plan for a high risk year. We would advise farmers to move stock, particularly sheep, off high risk fields as soon as possible. Sheep should be treated by mid-October and before the start of November at the absolute latest.”
For more detailed information on liver fluke, SRUC offers a free, online technical note providing up-to-date information for both vets and farmers: www.sruc.ac.uk/downloads/file/3135/tn677\_treatment\_and\_control\_of\_liver\_fluke.

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