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  1. #1
    Schoolmaster widget's Avatar
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    Default Liver fluke in horses

    Anyone got any experiences? Did horse recover, symptoms treatment etc

  2. #2
    Old nag
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    Default Re: Liver fluke in horses

    I've no experience of this but have read of a couple of horses with it and another couple treated successfully for it as educated guesses. I imagine recovery depends on the extent of any liver damage but vets have to use a flukicide and to my knowledge none are licensed for horses. I believe faeces can be screened for eggs but you have to ask specifically as it's a different test to other worm eggs.
    All the ones I've read about made good recoveries.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Liver fluke in horses

    my sister's cob has been loosing weight (not drastic but enough to cause concern in a super good doer) so we had the vet come out and he thinks he may have a liver fluke burden. Treatment is the drug that is licensed for cattle/sheep but it is safe for horses, just not licensed. Our vet has said that confirmed diagnosis requires biopsies etc but because horses usually have a low burden it's not unusual to not get a positive biospy even if they do have the fluke. Treatment is safe, effective and cheap.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Liver fluke in horses

    Blood tests showed elevated liver enzymes in all 6 of my ponies in June 2012. I was asking for monthly bloods at the time as was monitoring muscle enzymes in response to elevated muscle enzymes due to a possible selenium deficiency.

    Ponies continued to look very well throughout, although the worst affected pony did become very nappy in even just gentle, walk-only ridden work.

    Over the next few months I had a total of about a dozen poo samples tested for liver fluke (2 from most ponies, and 3 from the 2 worst affected). It wasn't til the last 2 tests in October that ONE fluke egg was found in a 3g sample of poo from the worst affected pony, and him only.

    On that basis, the vet prescribed Fasinex under the guidance of David Sutton at Glasgow uni who has a particular interest in liver fluke in horses.

    The worst affected pony's GGT level went from a high of 2,310 in early November down to 671 in mid December. The fasinex was given immediately after the November blood result, and repeated a couple of weeks later on David Sutton's advice.

    The other ponies were also treated with Fasinex at the same time, and over the same period their GGT levels fell by approximately half, the lowest one being 97 in December (so still above the 45 given as the upper reference limit by our lab).

    Of course it's impossible to say whether the fasinex made the difference or whether it was just the time it took for the body to heal, but I think it was the fasinex.

    I was worried about giving a flukicide to ponies with already compromised livers, but that one fluke egg found gave me good reason to go ahead. Although apparently some horses can appear mildly colicky as a side effect soon after treatment, there were no side effects with my gang, and I would have no hesitation in giving fasinex again if the liver enzymes increase again with no apparent cause.

    Incidentally, my land here is not typically flukey land at all. Fluke apparently likes wet land where one of its hosts, an aquatic snail, can live. Mine is ex-dairy grassland, with no standing water and has not been grazed by cattle or sheep for several years. However, apparently DS is seeing fluke in more places in recent years, what with all the wet weather we've had.

    Some of the poo samples were tested for fluke eggs via our usual lab, but others went specifically to David Sutton, and that's who I'd send them to another time given his particular interest in this subject.

    I think that's about all I know.

    Sarah

  5. #5
    Old nag
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    Default Re: Liver fluke in horses

    Being ex dairy land might be a factor FFF. Flukes are much more of a problem in cattle and sheep and I've read if it's a problem area not to cross graze.
    I think it's something we will see more of with the wetter climate.

  6. #6
    Schoolmaster widget's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liver fluke in horses

    Thanks everyone much appreciated

  7. #7

    Default Re: Liver fluke in horses

    Thanks Amanda. That reminds me that I meant to add that sheep are known to be the biggest shedders of fluke eggs (into the thousands of eggs per gram), sheep into the hundreds, whereas horses shed very few fluke eggs (like my guy only shedding one egg in 3 grams of poo). So I definitely agree that cross-grazing may be a problem in infested areas. Quite the reverse of what is thought with most worm eggs.

    Interestingly, liver enzyme levels were all normal from 2008 up to mid 2012, so I don't think that previous land use here can be in any way to blame.

    The reason I mentioned it being ex-dairy land was to give an idea of the type of land in terms of it being generally pretty well drained and without marsh grasses etc. In other words very different from the marshy grasslands that would more usually be thought of as likely to support fluke. In other words, if fluke is living on my pasture (which is also poo picked daily), then it really is worth considering as a possible cause of liver problems in any horse on any pasture.

    Sarah

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