Lungworm in cattle in NI 29/08/2019

Lungworm in cattle in Northern Ireland

The parasites

Lungworm infection (also known as hoose or husk) is an important respiratory disease of cattle.  It can cause severe economic losses due to a loss of performance in young cattle, a reduced milk yield in lactating cattle and can result in death. 

Disease occurrence

The disease is caused by a small roundworm, Dictyocaulus viviparus.  It is usually seen in calves during their first season at grass however older animals can be affected if there are large numbers of larvae present.  Outbreaks are often seen from July to October and are more common in wetter areas.

Infection is acquired when infective larvae are eaten.  The larvae penetrate the intestinal wall, travelling to the lungs in the circulation.  Coughing and rapid breathing are associated with developing young adults climbing up the air passages.  Adult lungworms remain in the airways where they lay eggs which hatch into larvae that are then coughed up, swallowed and are passed in the dung on to pasture where they are able to infect further cattle. 

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