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HomeFarming NewsNew test can diagnose liver fluke exposure in 10 minutes
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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New test can diagnose liver fluke exposure in 10 minutes

Mologic Ltd and University of Liverpool have developed a new rapid diagnostic test for liver fluke.

The test will enable diagnosis of liver fluke exposure in livestock in 10 minutes, to target treatment, prevent drug resistance and reduce costly production losses

Mologic Ltd announced it is in the final developmental stages of a pen-diagnostic test with the University of Liverpool.

Current liver fluke diagnostic tests require laboratory analysis, with typical wait time of week or more for results. Together with the impracticalities of regathering livestock, many tend to treat without diagnosis, contributing to the development of resistance to flukicide drugs.

How does it work?

The test detects antibodies circulating in the blood of fluke-infected animals through a blood droplet taken from the ear.

Results are available within 10 minutes, allowing farmers to make an informed diagnosis and treat at the point of need.

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Early fluke detection will prevent acute disease in sheep and for beef farmers, the ability to monitor infection at housing.

Most importantly, it will allow the implementation of targeted treatment programmes. These will aid in slowing the development of flukicide resistance.

Practical diagnostic test for farmers and vets 

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 overreliance 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.

Lastly, Lesley Stubbings representing the Sustainable Control of Parasites (SCOPS) group added: 

“Testing is a key element in liver fluke control. 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 treated for liver fluke or not.”

How to control liver fluke

See an article on how to control liver fluke.

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