Distribution of Fasciola hepatica in Swedish dairy cattle and associations with pasture management factors

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Adam Novobilský *
Sofia Sollenberg
Johan Höglund
(*) Corresponding Author:
Adam Novobilský | adam.novobilsky@slu.se

Abstract

The geographic distribution of Fasciola hepatica infection in relation to management routines was studied in Swedish dairy herds by testing for F. hepatica antibodies with the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). In addition, all farmers were sent a questionnaire asking for information about type of production, management routines and historical record of F. hepatica at slaughter. A total of 176 farmers (41%) responded to the questionnaire. A total of 426 bulk tank milk (BTM) samples were randomly selected from the period September to October 2012 representing approximately 10% of all herds in Sweden. The overall seroprevalence was 25% (n = 107; 95% confidence interval = 21-29%) with a concentration of herds located in south-western Sweden. Among the seropositive herds, 31 (29%) had antibody levels indicating production loss. There were no significant differences in seropositivity between organic and conventional herds or due to pasture management routines. The length of grazing period, which increased the risk for heifers, was found to be the most influential factor. A discrepancy was noted between reported F. hepatica presence at meat inspection and herds that were seropositive based on BTM-ELISA results. Although the largest proportion of seropositive BTM samples (80%) came from herds where liver fluke presence had been observed at meat inspection after slaughter, seropositive BTM samples were also diagnosed in five herds (17%) with no remarks at slaughter. In conclusion, F. hepatica is a common parasite in Swedish dairy herds and the month of heifer turn-out and the grazing period length were the most influential factors observed.

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