• Liver fluke in Irish sheep: prevalence and associations with management practices and co-infection with rumen fluke.

      Munita, Maria Pia; Rea, Rosemary; Martinez-Ibeas, Ana Maria; Byrne, Noel; McGrath, Guy; Munita-Corbalan, Luis Enrique; Sekiya, Mary; Mulcahy, Grace; Sayers, Riona; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Biomed Central, 2019-11-06)
      Background The present study aimed to identify the national prevalence of Fasciola hepatica in Irish sheep and to conduct a risk analysis assessment based on management and treatment practices in participating flocks. Also, co-infection with rumen fluke was quantified and its association with liver fluke and management practices was assessed. Methods A total of 305 sheep flocks were selected ensuring even national representation of the sheep population. Participating farms were asked to complete a survey questionnaire on farm management practices and submit faecal samples during the winter of 2014–2015. Pooled faecal samples were analysed for the presence of F. hepatica and co-infection with rumen fluke. Apparent and true prevalence were calculated, additionally, the rate of co-infection with rumen fluke was also obtained. Correlation and regression analyses were used for assessing associations between management practices, liver fluke infection and co-infection with rumen fluke. Results The national true prevalence of F. hepatica was 50.4% (n = 305). Regional prevalence varied from 41% in the east to 52% in the south. Co-infection with rumen fluke was observed in 40% of the studied population and correlated with increased F. hepatica egg counts (OR = 2.9; P ≤ 0.001). Predominant breeds were Suffolk, Texel and Horned Mountain breeds. Beef cattle were the most frequent type of other livestock present on farms and mixed species grazing was frequently reported (73%). More than half of the flocks reported a mid-to-late lambing period (March-April). Use of mountain land for grazing was of 32%. Flukicides were most commonly used twice over the autumn-winter period. Regression analyses highlighted significant association of F. hepatica status, with the presence of other livestock on farm, frequency of flukicides used during the winter and clinical presentation of liver fluke. A significant increase in eggs per gram of faeces was observed in Charollais sheep in comparison with all other breeds. Co-infection with F. hepatica and Calicophoron daubneyi was also significantly associated with the presence of other livestock on the farm, type of flukicide used and clinical fasciolosis. Conclusions The present study provides up-to-date information on the prevalence of F. hepatica in Irish sheep and adds insight to the epidemiology of the disease. These findings will be useful for designing new holistic control measures for F. hepatica infection.
    • Rumen fluke in Irish sheep: prevalence, risk factors and molecular identification of two paramphistome species

      Martinez-Ibeas, Ana M; Munita, Maria P; Lawlor, Kim; Sekiya, Mary; Mulcahy, Grace; Sayers, Riona (Biomed Central, 2016-07-18)
      Background Rumen flukes are trematode parasites found globally; in tropical and sub-tropical climates, infection can result in paramphistomosis, which can have a deleterious impact on livestock. In Europe, rumen fluke is not regarded as a clinically significant parasite, recently however, the prevalence of rumen fluke has sharply increased and several outbreaks of clinical paramphistomosis have been reported. Gaining a better understanding of rumen fluke transmission and identification of risk factors is crucial to improve the control of this parasitic disease. In this regard, a national prevalence study of rumen fluke infection and an investigation of associated risk factors were conducted in Irish sheep flocks between November 2014 and January 2015. In addition, a molecular identification of the rumen fluke species present in Ireland was carried out using an isolation method of individual eggs from faecal material coupled with a PCR. After the DNA extraction of 54 individual eggs, the nuclear fragment ITS-2 was amplified and sequenced using the same primers. Results An apparent herd prevalence of 77.3 % was determined. Several risk factors were identified including type of pasture grazed, regional variation, and sharing of the paddocks with other livestock species. A novel relationship between the Suffolk breed and higher FEC was reported for the first time. The predominant rumen fluke species found was C. daubneyi. Nevertheless, P. leydeni was unexpectedly identified infecting sheep in Ireland for the first time. Conclusions An exceptionally high prevalence of rumen fluke among Irish sheep flocks has been highlighted in this study and a more thorough investigation is necessary to analyse its economic impact. The isolation of individual eggs coupled with the PCR technique used here has proven a reliable tool for discrimination of Paramphistomum spp. This technique may facilitate forthcoming studies of the effects of paramphistomosis on livestock production. The most noteworthy finding was the identification of P. leydeni affecting sheep in Ireland, however further studies are required to clarify its implications. Also, a significant relationship between Suffolk breed and a heavier infection was found, which can be used as a starting point for future research on control strategies of rumen fluke infection.
    • Spatial patterns of Fasciola hepatica and Calicophoron daubneyi infections in ruminants in Ireland and modelling of C. daubneyi infection

      Naranjo-Lucena, Amalia; Munita, Maria P; Martinez-Ibeas, Ana M; McGrath, Guy; Murray, Gerard; Casey, Micheal; Good, Barbara; Sayers, Riona; Mulcahy, Grace; Zintl, Annetta; et al. (Biomed Central, 2018-09-29)
      Background Fasciola hepatica has always represented a threat to Irish livestock because the Irish climate is highly suitable for the main local intermediate host of the parasite, the snail Galba truncatula. The recent clinical emergence of infections due to Calicophoron daubneyi has raised the question of whether the two parasites, which share a niche during part of their life-cycles, interact in some way. Here, we used geographical information systems (GIS) to analyse the distribution of both parasites in cattle and sheep. We also developed the first predictive model of paramphistomosis in Ireland. Results Our results indicated that, in cattle, liver fluke infection is less common than rumen fluke infection and does not exhibit the same seasonal fluctuations. Overall, we found that cattle had a higher likelihood of being infected with rumen fluke than sheep (OR = 3.134, P < 0.01). In addition, infection with one parasite increased the odds of infection with the other in both host species. Rumen fluke in cattle showed the highest spatial density of infection. Environmental variables such as soil drainage, land cover and habitat appeared to be the most important risk factors for C. daubneyi infection, followed by rainfall and vegetation. Overall the risk of infection with this parasite was predicted to be higher in the west of the country. Conclusions This study shows differences between the infection rates and spatial patterns of bovine and ovine infections with F. hepatica and C. daubneyi in Ireland. Whether the reasons for this are due to susceptibility, exposure and/or management factors is yet to be determined. Furthermore, the rumen fluke model indicates distinct risk factors and predicted distribution to those of F. hepatica, suggesting potential biological differences between both parasite species.