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Advice on Lungworm Prevention

Lungworm prevention - Huskvac

Lungworm Prevention Advice from Mark Riggs Head Vet BVetMed MRCVS

Rise in lungworm outbreaks, vaccinate now or cough up later...

Now is the time to be thinking about lungworm prevention. Historically, lungworm problems have been most commonly associated with youngstock, but a greater proportion of cases are now being reported in adult animals that have been repeatedly exposed to long acting wormers and, as a consequence, haven’t built up sufficient natural immunity.

A recently published study looking at the costs of severe lungworm infection in two Dutch dairy herds showed that both farms lost over £130 per cow to their disease outbreaks. On both units over 80% of these costs were down to lost production – through a combination of depressed milk yield and cattle deaths, with one of the farms losing over £13,000 due to a lungworm outbreak.

Integrating a lungworm control program into your herd health plan makes sound financial sense, especially for replacement young stock during their first grazing season. 

Husk infestation occurs as a result of infection with the worm Dictyocaulus viviparus.  The lifecycle involves cattle ingesting pasture contaminated with infective larvae.  These larvae, once in the gut, migrate through intestinal walls and make their way to lung tissue.  Once in the lungs they reside in the airways and start to produce thousands of eggs.  These eggs are then coughed up and swallowed.  During their transit through the gastrointestinal tract the eggs hatch into the infective larvae stage which further contaminates the pasture.  This efficient lifecycle combined with a spell of mild, wet weather such as we have had recently can create a sudden, dramatic increase in lungworm populations, which can be very harmful, even fatal, to any stock that have little or no immunity. 

Bovilis Huskvac is a live vaccine, made from irradiated larvae, which are incapable of causing disease.  For dairy calves, vaccination should be completed at least two weeks before the calves are turned out to grass, for suckled calves it should finish two weeks before the calves begin to eat significant amounts of grass. Wormers such as sustained-release boluses should not be given until two weeks after the final dose of vaccine.

Vaccination with a pre-turnout course of Bovilis Huskvac is the most reliable and cost-effective way of ensuring the development of immunity to lungworm. 

Source Details

Mark Riggs, Head Vet BVetMed MRCVS

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