As Liver Flukes Move to New Territories, Cattle Producers Urged to Stay Alert

Listen to Ron Hays talk with Dr. John Davidson on Liver Flukes in cattle.

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is talking with the Senior Associate Director, Cattle Professional Services John Davidson with Boehringer Ingelheim, Dr. John Davidson about liver flukes being of great concern for cattle producers in the United States.

“The liver fluke is not new,” Davidson said. “What is new, is we are learning more about changes to the geographical distribution of that organism.

Historically, Davidson said this parasite would be found in low-land, and marsh-type country.

“That would be the gulf coast of the United States from Texas to Florida,” Davidson said.

After recently working with veterinarians and sampling native cattle from Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas, Davidson said cases of bovine liver fluke were found present.

“The liver fluke not only needs to be part of the surveillance in the herds when we suspect something is not right with weaning weights or reproductive performance, but it is also a part of the potential treatment and prevention through deworming strategies in the fall of the year,” Davidson said.

Regarding treatment and response to liver fluke in cattle herds, Davidson said the liver fluke is only susceptible to a few available drugs.

“One is the ingredient in the combination product which is Ivomec Plus,” Davidson said. “There is an oral white wormer, Albendazol, that is also effective against the liver fluke, but the injectable product would be one that is convenient, and not historically given in some parts of the country where we now think the fluke is present.”

These drugs, Davidson said, are only effective against the adult stage of the liver fluke only.

“You have to be strategic about using the product when it is effective where the parasite you are treating and targeting is actually vulnerable and susceptible to the drug,” Davidson said.

Exposure changes throughout the year based on the season, Davidson said, so cattle producers should take this into consideration when making additions to their herd health program.

Testing the herd to see what parasites are present in them before and after treatment, Davidson said, is an effective method against liver flukes that he recommends.

“I am a fan of following up to make sure things are working the way that you expect them to,” Davidson said.

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