Liver Fluke (Fasciola hepatica) is a flat, leaf-like parasite found in the liver of grazing animals, most commonly sheep and cattle, however it can also infect horses. Temperature and moisture levels in the current and previous year have a major impact on fluke populations with animals kept in wetter, warmer locations being more at risk.
The liver fluke worm egg count test is similar to a normal worm count although because of the comparative difficulty of liver fluke reproducing in the horse 3 samples are collected on consecutive days to increase the chances of detecting the parasite.
A positive test result
If a positive count for liverfluke is detected in the horse or in an animal grazing with the horse such as a sheep or cow then you should consult your vet for treatment.
There are no drugs for liver fluke currently approved for use in horses. The only way to treat an infection is for a flukicide to be prescribed off licence by a vet.
A faecal worm count is one of the most common ways to detect fluke. Due to its complex life cycle the test is best done between February and May when it will detect adult, egg laying stages. Although a worm egg count is not a definitive test for liver fluke it is nevertheless a useful tool. Alternatively an ELISA blood test available through your vet will detect immature, as well as adult, egg laying stages of the parasite.