A harmful parasite that costs the UK cattle and sheep industry an estimated £300 million per year may also be an under‐recognised cause of liver disease in horses, a study by the University of Liverpool has found.
The study was funded by the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) and is published in the Equine Veterinary Journal.
Liver fluke is a common cause of disease in cattle and sheep but can also infect other grazing animals, including horses, donkeys, deer and rabbits.
Horses frequently graze the same pastures as sheep and cattle but are thought to be relatively resistant to liver fluke infection. However, there is evidence that horses can be adversely affected by liver fluke, with clinical signs including poor performance, fatigue, diarrhoea, poor appetite and jaundice.
At the same time, liver disease is common in horses and the cause can often be difficult to find. These factors together led to a concern that liver fluke in horses may be responsible for some cases of undiagnosed equine liver disease.
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