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Diseases & Solutions

Rumen Fluke

Rumen Fluke

AKA: Stomach fluke, paramphistomes
Scientific Name: Calicophoron daubneyi (cattle and sheep), Paramphistomum leydeni (sheep)
Active Ingredients for Control: Oxyclozanide (based on research, no licenced product)

Though it seems to have only risen to prominence in recent years, research from UCD in 2018 concluded that rumen fluke (Calicophoron daubneyi) infection is now more common than liver fluke in Ireland. The same authors also stated that rumen fluke had less seasonal patterns, was more widespread geographically and was more likely to affect cattle than sheep.

Frequent use of flukicides removing the ‘competition effect’ (liver fluke and rumen fluke use the same host), climate change and the misinterpretation of rumen fluke eggs as liver fluke eggs in faecal analysis are cited as being the reasons for the delayed interest in the parasite. Also, rumens are not routinely checked post slaughter by vets as is the case with livers.

Heavy infections of rumen fluke can cause severe intestinal damage, with symptoms akin to a bad scour in a young calf. Excessive loss in body condition, dehydration and, particularly in young animals, death can follow too.

Though it seems to have only risen to prominence in recent years, research from UCD in 2018 concluded that rumen fluke (Calicophoron daubneyi) infection is now more common than liver fluke in Ireland. The same authors also stated that rumen fluke had less seasonal patterns, was more widespread geographically and was more likely to affect cattle than sheep.

Frequent use of flukicides removing the ‘competition effect’ (liver fluke and rumen fluke use the same host), climate change and the misinterpretation of rumen fluke eggs as liver fluke eggs in faecal analysis are cited as being the reasons for the delayed interest in the parasite. Also, rumens are not routinely checked post slaughter by vets as is the case with livers.

Heavy infections of rumen fluke can cause severe intestinal damage, with symptoms akin to a bad scour in a young calf. Excessive loss in body condition, dehydration and, particularly in young animals, death can follow too.

The life-cycles of liver and rumen fluke share many similarities, particularly outside the animal. Both use the same intermediate host for example. However, after excysting in the small intestine liver fluke penetrate the gut wall and continue to the liver, while immature rumen fluke travel to the duodenum and jejunum. Here, they attach to the gut wall and feed on blood and the tract lining for up to six weeks. Following this, they move to the rumen where they lodge onto papillae on the rumen wall, lay thousands of eggs and feed on digesta. At this point they are of little concern to the animal or farmer, even in large numbers – the damage is done in the intestine during the immature stages. As with liver fluke, maturity is reached 10-12 weeks after ingestion. Only at this point will eggs be detectable in faeces, not during the immature stage when severe symptoms may be displayed.

Soil drainage was found to be the number one variable determining a farm’s rumen fluke risk, not temperature as is for liver fluke in UCD's 2018 paper. In the winter of 2013, 49% of submitted samples in the UCD analysis were positive for rumen fluke. Also, in the years between 2010 and 2015, the likelihood of a co-infection, both liver and rumen fluke, increased threefold.

In terms of diagnostics, low blood albumin levels, anaemia and oedema under the jaw will accompany the classic scour and wastage symptoms. Management measures for controlling rumen fluke are the same as those for liver fluke – drainage and the strategic avoidance of wet areas when grazing. Removing the snail habitat will remove the fluke risk.

In terms of treatments, there are no products licenced as to treat rumen fluke at time of writing. However, research shows that oxyclozanide has good efficacy against all stages of rumen fluke.

Use medicines responsibly.

The life-cycles of liver and rumen fluke share many similarities, particularly outside the animal. Both use the same intermediate host for example. However, after excysting in the small intestine liver fluke penetrate the gut wall and continue to the liver, while immature rumen fluke travel to the duodenum and jejunum. Here, they attach to the gut wall and feed on blood and the tract lining for up to six weeks. Following this, they move to the rumen where they lodge onto papillae on the rumen wall, lay thousands of eggs and feed on digesta. At this point they are of little concern to the animal or farmer, even in large numbers – the damage is done in the intestine during the immature stages. As with liver fluke, maturity is reached 10-12 weeks after ingestion. Only at this point will eggs be detectable in faeces, not during the immature stage when severe symptoms may be displayed.

Soil drainage was found to be the number one variable determining a farm’s rumen fluke risk, not temperature as is for liver fluke in UCD's 2018 paper. In the winter of 2013, 49% of submitted samples in the UCD analysis were positive for rumen fluke. Also, in the years between 2010 and 2015, the likelihood of a co-infection, both liver and rumen fluke, increased threefold.

In terms of diagnostics, low blood albumin levels, anaemia and oedema under the jaw will accompany the classic scour and wastage symptoms. Management measures for controlling rumen fluke are the same as those for liver fluke – drainage and the strategic avoidance of wet areas when grazing. Removing the snail habitat will remove the fluke risk.

In terms of treatments, there are no products licenced as to treat rumen fluke at time of writing. However, research shows that oxyclozanide has good efficacy against all stages of rumen fluke.

Use medicines responsibly.

Literature review, Lenehan 2019   
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