• Partnership Develops Test for Common Agricultural Parasite

News & Views

Partnership Develops Test for Common Agricultural Parasite

Feb 14 2021

The University of Liverpool and Mologic Ltd have been collaborating on a lateral flow test which will allow farmers and vets to diagnose livestock exposure to fluke on farm, with results available within 10 minutes. Prevalent in over 70 countries worldwide and a common parasite affecting cattle and sheep in the UK, Fasciola hepatica (the liver fluke) is estimated to cause over US 3.2 billion dollars in livestock production losses.

Professor Diana Williams and Tessa Walsh PhD, Infection Biology at the University of Liverpool jointly commented: “We are delighted that what started as a research tool is now being developed as a practical diagnostic test for farmers and vets, to support strategic control for this common, devastating disease. The project has been supported by AHDB and BBSRC to bring it to a point where we can start to develop the test commercially.”

Dr Alison Wakeham, Project Leader, Mologic, commented: “In fluke endemic areas, industry practice is often to treat in the absence of any diagnosis. As seen with antibiotics, an over-reliance on flukicides gives rise to anthelmintic resistance and poses a significant threat and constraint to livestock production. Farm testing offers the industry a cost-effective route to early diagnosis and an on-the-spot targeted treatment. A positive outcome for the animal, the producer, the processor and the consumer.”

Lesley Stubbings representing the Sustainable Control of Parasites (SCOPS) group added: “Testing is a key element in Liver Fluke control and the SCOPS group are excited by the potential for a test that can be used 'pen-side' on farm. This would enable farmers to treat only when necessary, ensuring timely treatment while avoiding over-use of flukicides, which is critical if we are to preserve the efficacy of the medicines available to us.”

Rebecca Small on behalf of the Control of Worms Sustainably (COWS) group added: “It is great to see that research is being put into practice. This tool is an exciting development that will provide rapid results allowing farmers to make more informed decisions as to whether an animal needs to be treated for liver fluke or not.”

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