Tyndall National Institute, Ireland has announced the development of a new diagnostic toolkit -- Flukeless -- to help in the fight against liver fluke in cattle and sheep.
The new toolkit will combine state-of-the-art diagnostic devices, tracking systems and immunity and DNA testing to tackle the common liver fluke parasite -- a scourge that causes annual losses of around €2.5billion to the livestock and food industries worldwide.
Developed for use by farmers, vets and policy analysts, Flukeless will provide a blueprint for new, on-farm parasite control, allowing farmers to rapidly intervene and correct parasite-related animal health issues such as reduced live-weight gain, calving rates and milk yield.
Led by Dr Alan O'Riordan, Principal Investigator at Tyndall National Institute, Flukeless will be developed in collaboration with Teagasc, University College Dublin, Zoetis, The Enfer Group and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation. The project recently received a Research grant of €878,883 under the Irish Government's Research Stimulus Fund (RSF), which aims to support sustainable and competitive agricultural production practices and policies, and contributes to building and maintaining a knowledge economy and research capability in the agriculture sector.
Speaking about Flukeless, Dr O'Riordan said "The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) estimates that approximately 20% of animal production is lost due to unhealthy animals. At a time when some EU member states (including Ireland) are reporting a 12-fold increase in the prevalence of liver fluke infection over recent years, it is crucial to find innovative new ways to maintain animal health and welfare to achieve maximum farm profitability. With Flukeless, we believe that we have a pioneering, multidimensional package including on-farm fluke diagnostics, the results of which will be uploaded to geographical information system for disease mapping and also feed into breeding programmes. This approach has broad application and will save significant time, energy and money.
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