THE number of outbreaks of disease caused by the liver fluke Fasciola hepatica in cattle and sheep in Great Britain has increased dramatically in recent years, particularly in 1999 and 2000. The disease is closely linked to summer rainfall which favours fluke development and provides an optimum habitat for the intermediate host, the mud snail Lymnaea truncatula. The disease poses a threat to animal welfare and may also cause major economic losses through mortality, illthrift, treatment and veterinary costs. Fasciolosis has long been associated with high mortality in sheep flocks, and anaemia and poor production in beef and dairy cattle. In the past few years, fluke-related deaths have also been reported in adult beef cattle and the parasite has been linked with outbreaks of salmonellosis and metabolic disease in dairy cattle. This article discusses the pathogenesis and epidemiology of fasciolosis and outlines an approach to diagnosis, treatment and control. While much of the data provided in the article relate to Scotland, it is generally considered that these are mirrored in other parts of the UK.
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