Tapeworm scare in beef cattle

The importance of biosecurity on farms has been emphasised after a farmer in north Wales found that one of his beef cattle had become infected with a rare human parasite.

The farmer, who breeds pedigree cattle, discovered that a cow was infected with Cysticercus bovis larvae. The incident, in 2014, was linked to workers from an electricity company and the company accepted responsibility when the case was settled recently.

Eifion Bibby, director of Davis Meade Property Consultants, who represented the farmer, said the infection was discovered after the cow’s carcase was condemned at an abattoir. He said that although it had a traumatic effect on the farmer and there were repercussions on his business, it seemed that only one animal was affected.

The farmer, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he wanted all farmers and landowners landowners to be aware of the risks.

Cysticercus bovis is the larval stage of the human beef tapeworm, Taenia saginata. Cattle act as the intermediate host. They become infected through grazing contaminated by infected human faeces, application of sewage to land, or indirectly through mechanical vectors such as birds. Cysticercus bovis cannot be spread from person to person, or between cattle.

Mr Bibby said: “We cannot emphasise enough the significance of high-level biosecurity on farms at all times, and the importance of utility companies ensuring that their representatives, including contractors, have welfare units available to their personnel,” said Mr Bibby.

“Some utility companies refer to biosecurity in their codes of practice. If this is not the case, it is important to question them, to be vigilant that appropriate measures are adopted and, if necessary, to seek professional advice.”

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