A FLUKE warning has been issued to cattle and sheep farmers across the UK, as the flukicide Trodax is withdrawn from the market.

Animal health groups are reminding producers, that despite a lower liver fluke warning due to a very dry year, producers should still test on their own farms, and consider other treatment options.

Trodax was previously licensed for use in sheep and cattle in the UK with a spectrum of activity against liver fluke from immature through to adult stages. It was also valuable because it was a different chemical class to the other flukicides such as triclabendazole, and closantel, so allowed for a strategic rotation of products.

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Its withdrawal means there are now only four actives authorised in the UK and available for sheep – and two of those are adulticides that only kill adult fluke. There are five actives in cattle, three of which are adulticides.

Sheep Veterinary Society president, Rebecca Mearns, commented: “To minimise the extra pressure on the only two actives that can kill immature fluke (triclabendazole and closantel), we need to be more careful than ever to make informed decisions about timing of treatment and product choice. We cannot afford to guess. There are good diagnostic tests available and we urge livestock farmers to consult their vet or adviser to decide how best to investigate whether fluke is present and what actions, if any, to take.”

Speaking on behalf of the Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) and Control of Cattle Parasites Sustainably (COWS) groups, Philip Skuce of the Moredun Research Institute said: “We are already beginning to see the first signs of liver fluke infection acquired this year. Using lambs and calves born this spring as sentinels for fluke infection in the West of Scotland, we have seen a significant proportion of both serum antibody and coproantigen tests come back positive.

"This suggests some animals encountered a fluke challenge as early as mid-July. This may seem odd in such a dry year, but many farms rely on field springs and streams to provide water for grazing stock, which can lead to permanent wet patches where the mud snails can persist. This is supported by negative test results for a group supplied by a water trough.”

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A vet with Elanco Animal Health, Matt Colston, added: “In a year like this, it is imperative we use the tests available to monitor the fluke situation on individual farms. We can’t just make assumptions based on general forecasts or previous history. Each farm needs to know if treatment is required, when to do it and what product to use.”

Details of the tests available to farmers can be found on the SCOPS and COWS websites.