• Determining the Prevalence and Seasonality of Fasciola hepatica in Pasture-based Dairy herds in Ireland using a Bulk Tank Milk ELISA

      Bloemhoff, Yris; Forbes, Andrew; Danaher, Martin; Good, Barbara; Morgan, Eric; Mulcahy, Grace; Sekiya, Mary; Sayers, Riona; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust; Merial (Biomed Central, 09/07/2015)
      Background Fasciola hepatica is a helminth parasite of global importance in livestock, with major economic impact. However information on F. hepatica infections in Irish pasture-based dairy herds is limited. Therefore this study was conducted in order to determine the prevalence, seasonality and management factors associated with F. hepatica. A total of 319 Irish dairy herds were selected for this study. Bulk tank milk (BTM) samples were collected from 290 dairy farms on a quarter year basis, while from a further 29 dairy farms BTM samples were collected on a monthly basis to provide a more detailed pattern of F. hepatica exposure in Irish herds. BTM samples were analysed using a commercially available F. hepatica antibody detection ELISA. Furthermore, within-herd prevalence of F. hepatica was assessed in a subset of these 29 herds (n = 17); both individual serum samples and bulk tank milk samples were collected. Results A within-herd prevalence of ≤ 50 % was found for herds with negative bulk tank milk samples. The mean prevalence of the 290 study herds was 75.4 % (Range 52 %–75.1 %), with the highest prevalence being observed in November (75.1 %). The seasonal pattern of F. hepatica shows elevated antibodies as the grazing season progressed, reaching a peak in January. A significant association was found between F. hepatica and age at first calving. Conclusion This study demonstrates that F. hepatica is present in a large proportion of Irish dairy herds and provides a basis on which control practices, particularly in adult dairy cows, can be reviewed.