Teagasc and the Molecular Parasitology laboratory, NUI Galway, are aiming to develop a vaccine to prevent liver fluke infection in sheep.
Parties involved in the collaborative research project are testing vaccines that utilise a variety of proteins found in liver fluke.
According to researchers, the aim of using these proteins is to stimulate the sheep’s immune system to mount an effective immune response to kill off the parasite and limit any future infections.
A spokesperson for Teagasc, in one of its recent technical sheep production booklet, said:
“If proven to be effective, vaccination will help reduce reliance on flukicide treatments and will improve production efficiency, which may be limited by this parasite.”
“A number of vaccines have recently been tested in trials at Teagasc, Athenry. Field trials of promising candidates are starting in the summer of 2022 to assess how well the vaccine works when faced with the day-to-day challenges that sheep experience at pasture.”
“The development of a vaccine which protects against liver fluke infection would provide a method of non-chemical control of fluke. It would have a cumulative effect due to the prevention of egg shedding, thus breaking the liver fluke life cycle.”
The spokesperson for the state agency noted that vaccination offers an “alternative and sustainable” approach to controlling liver fluke infection.
Liver fluke in sheep
In a previous article, CAFRE’s Nigel Gould discussed liver fluke in sheep, which reads as follows:
You should assess the threat of liver fluke in your flock and develop an appropriate treatment strategy with your vet.
Liver fluke requires an intermediary host, the mud snail, which is generally more prevalent in wetter areas.
Higher levels of rainfall throughout the year and mild winters provide an ideal environment for the mud snail to thrive.
- The incidences of liver fluke on your farm in previous year;
- Type of ground the flock are grazing.
If you send lambs or cull ewes for slaughter, ask plants to check livers for fluke.
Read more on this.