Home > Virbac’s Nitromec injection offers all-stage liver fluke treatment for cattle

Virbac’s Nitromec injection offers all-stage liver fluke treatment for cattle

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article image Nick Sangster, Specialist in Veterinary Parasitology and Head of the Animal and Veterinary Sciences School at Charles Stuart University, Wagga Wagga

The Nitromec injection from Virbac Animal Health  combines nitroxynil and clorsulon to create a particularly potent treatment for liver fluke in cattle.  

Recent wet conditions are possibly set to contribute to an increase in liver fluke, a parasite that costs $100 million in lost production in Australian livestock industries annually. Experts recommend that cattle producers in fluke-prone areas should be planning the autumn treatment of their herds now, but product choice has become more complicated with research suggesting widespread resistance to conventional treatments.  

Nick Sangster, a Specialist in Veterinary Parasitology and Head of the Animal and Veterinary Sciences School at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga is currently involved in research that has found triclabendazole-resistant liver fluke in multiple locations including on the NSW South Coast, around Lismore and on the Murray River.  

Professor Sangster advises that the best approach is to tackle resistance head on by first confirming the presence of liver fluke ahead of treatment and then introducing a parasiticide rotation program.  

He explains that it’s worth spending the money on proper diagnosis before investing in treatment, while also advising rotation of products during the treatment to reduce resistance issues.  

Alternatives to triclabendazole for use in cattle include products containing albendazole, clorsulon and/or nitroxynil. Virbac’s Nitromec injection is one such product on the market that is non-triclabendazole based and matches its capacity to control all stages of liver fluke. Nitromec contains a combination of nitroxynil and clorsulon, which function synergistically, working together to create a particularly potent impact on the disease.  

Nitromec is an all-stage liver fluke treatment that can control flukes as young as two weeks old. Controlling the earlier stages is very important since these young flukes cause a great deal of damage as they migrate through the animal’s liver, destroying the tissue. Treatments that eliminate very early immature flukes can dramatically improve finishing weights of the herd while also closing the window of infection and reinfection.  

Professor Sangster also adds that recent wet weather may lead to a spike in fluke infection, caused by an increase in the snail population, which is essential in the fluke’s lifecycle. He advises cattle producers to begin fluke treatment right away going into winter so that there are no flukes or eggs accumulating in the environment. Immediate treatment will break the cycle and minimise production loss, and help the producers go into winter with healthy animals.  

Professor Sangster’s research project is being run in conjunction with Professor Terry Spithill at La Trobe University. Together with Virbac, Professors Sangster and Spithill are hoping not only to identify areas of resistance but also to develop a new and more reliable diagnostic test.  

Currently, faecal egg counts are used to confirm fluke and to check for treatment efficacy, but Professor Sangster says the correlation between egg counts and fluke burdens is not reliable. The new test is a faecal antigen test that identifies fluke protein, giving more reliable results while also being sensitive enough to pick up one fluke across several cattle.  

Liver fluke causes infected cattle to show lower growth rates and lower feed conversion rates. The young flukes penetrate the liver capsule and migrate through liver tissue for up to seven weeks before entering the bile ducts to become adult flukes. The resulting damage can cause death, blood loss, lowered appetite and, in some cases, bottle jaw. Animals suffering from acute liver fluke disease may die with little notice even before showing any signs of illness, making it even more important to treat livestock effectively.

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