The risk of liver fluke in livestock is significantly higher in the west than in the east this autumn and winter, the Department of Agriculture has reported.

Counties in the west and northwest along the Atlantic seaboard are predicted to have high prevalence of the disease, with little or no disease anticipated in parts of the east.

This forecast is based on meteorological data collected by Met Éireann between May and October this year.

Levels of liver fluke have been slightly lower than those reported in 2020, the Beef HealthCheck programme shows.

To date, an average of 45% of herds showed at least one animal with liver damage due to liver fluke at slaughter and live liver fluke parasites were seen in 13% of herds.

Monitoring of disease

Liver fluke infection can cause ill-thrift in cattle and sheep. If the infection is very heavy, it can result in sudden death in sheep.

Livestock owners are advised to be vigilant for any signs of illness or ill-thrift and should consult their vet where concerned.

Environmental factors

Climate and soil type must be taken into account when assessing the risk of liver fluke on your farm.

Areas of the farm with rushes or wet patches are particularly important with regard to liver fluke risk.

In areas of high risk and on farms where liver fluke infection has been diagnosed or where there is a prior history, livestock owners should consult with their vet to draw up an appropriate treatment and control programme.

This time of year, farmers should be starting to think about dosing their cattle as the optimum time to treat them is at housing or shortly after being housed.