As farmers across the UK battle to deal with the unexpected early rise in lungworm brought on by the summer’s warm and wet conditions, veterinary pharmaceutical company Norbrook has issued advice on how to manage the potentially fatal condition in cattle.
A swift two-stage treatment process involving anthelmintic treatment and removal from the infected pasture is the key to successfully combatting the disease. Early signs to look out for include coughing, initially after exercise and then at rest, with an increased respiratory rate. Left untreated, cattle will often lose weight, with noticeable deterioration taking place in their body condition. Dairy cattle may also experience a sudden and dramatic drop in milk yield.
The UK’s wet and warm summer is being held partly responsible for the outbreak, with Norbrook’s livestock support team recording a high number of cases, and farmers increasingly looking for advice on how it should be treated.
Dr Rebekah Dudek MRCVS, Norbrook’s veterinary advisor, said: “The weather conditions have resulted in increased pasture larval challenges, heightening the risk of all parasites. However, it is lungworm that seems to have particularly taken hold – and the fact it has hit slightly earlier than expected means that many farmers may not have had timely preparations in place to deal with it.
“Anthelmintic treatments incorporated into a proactive herd health plan is the key to protecting UK dairy and beef herd productivity from the effects of worm burdens – the importance of this cannot be overstated, because while the greatest risk of lungworm is to unvaccinated younger stock, the fact is that lungworm presents a risk to all stock.”
Ms Dudek advised farmers to contact their veterinary surgeon or SQP if they require further advice on treating lungworm.