Seasonal pattern of Fasciola hepatica antibodies in dairy herds in Northern Germany
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Fasciolosis, caused by the liver fluke Fasciola hepatica, is one of the most important parasitoses in cattle farming worldwide. In dairy cows, the trematode leads to economic losses due to decreased milk yield, a negative impact on reproduction parameters, and liver condemnations. In the present study, the seasonal patterns of F. hepatica antibodies in bulk-tank milk from dairy herds located in East Frisia, a region of the federal state Lower Saxony in the north of Germany, were investigated. This region was chosen since it is known as a high risk area for fluke infections due to its coastal location at the North Sea with the consequence of rather moist pastures. Between 669 and 868 bulk-tank milk samples were collected in January, September and November 2008 and 2010, respectively, and analysed for antibodies against F. hepatica with an in-house ELISA based on excretory–secretory antigens of the liver fluke. The overall East Frisian prevalence was 49.1%, 57.1% and 53.9% in January, September and November 2008 and 45.1%, 49.5% and 48.4% in 2010. From a number of 606 farms, which were sampled in all six investigated months, 34.5% of the farms continued to remain positive, whereas 30.9% continued to remain negative. A percentage of 69.1% (419 farms) were positive on at least one sampling occasion during the study period. The distributions of optical density ratio (ODR) values were skewed to the left but showed a second, lower peak in a high ODR range. Statistical analysis revealed a significant difference concerning the prevalence increase from January to September 2008. Furthermore, the prevalence decrease from September as well as November 2008 to these months in 2010 was significantly different, what might result from a more frequent use of anthelminthics or different climatic conditions.
KeywordsOptical Density Ratio Dairy Herd Liver Fluke Grazing Season Dairy Factory
The authors want to thank the dairy Molkerei Rücker for providing bulk-tank milk samples and Novartis Animal Health for financial support.
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