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Full Version: Liver Fluke Experience
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Has anyone out there had experience with liver flukes? I have been an avid reader of packgoat activities since the first packgoat forum in 2008. I have heard very little about liver flukes. Two of my 3 goats recently became very ill with this fluke. 
      Once ingested the fluke invades the liver and will kill a goat. Although diagnosis can be done with a fecal apparently it is a very difficult process, not like looking for other parasites. There is a blood test for it but unless you know what you're looking for it's not ordinarily done. I had a sick 10 year old in late March. Unable to find anything wrong with him the veterinarian did blood work and found elevated liver enzymes, a low blood protein, and elevated LDH. He was not anemic which can happen also. Three of the four abnormalities lead the vet to believe he had liver flukes. Treating him with albendazole really improved his situation in a matter of a few days.
      Thinking this was a rare situation and not likely to affect my other asymptomatic goats I opted not to treat them. They were younger and stronger than my 10 year old. This proved to be an almost fatal mistake for my 7 year old goat Blazer.
      Blazer appeared to slowing down on Sunday but I couldn't put a finger on what was wrong with him. By Tuesday it became obvious he was very slow and uncomfortable. I treated him with the albendazole and expected him to ralley quickly like my older goat had. However, in the 10 weeks since I had treated my first goat this one had become much more involved. By Wednesday evening he had abdominal distention and was moaning. We have a great livestock emergency business in Sandpoint ID who saw my goat within a few hours of my calling on Thursday morning.
    Oddly, he nibbled on a little food occasionally, drank water, had a rare cud to chew, and made poop and pee. He was obviously distressed and uncomfortable most of the time. She did a portable ultrasound which showed his liver was full of spots and his intestine in one area was thickened and not moving. We treated him with an antibiotic injection, a vitamin B injection, and a Bantamine injection, this was yesterday. This morning the abdominal distention was gone, he was alert, and did not appear to be in pain. He seems tired with a poor appetite but he is moving around and may survive. It's difficult to know how the liver damage will affect him. The return blood work this Friday morning confirmed the high probability of a liver fluke infestation.
      These flukes have a life cycle dependent on boggy, marshy, perennial wetlands that have slow moving water. The oddest part is the fluke embryos have to invade a freshwater snail. Somewhere in the snail they turn into a cyst and exit on vegetation where they get ingested by an animal like a goat. They then migrate to the liver, reproduce and embryos exit in the feces.
      We live on dry land. Seven or eight months before we saw the first symptoms we did two pack trips into marshy lake areas. Having no knowledge of liver flukes there is not much we could have done. My vet is recommending prophylactic treatment with albendazole after our packing season in the fall. I will certainly follow these recommendations.
Yikes! What a scary thing! We don't have liver flukes here where I live, but this is a great lesson for when we might go outside of our area. Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope all your goats make a full recovery!
A am shocked at the recovery Blazer has made. It seemed certain he would not survive this. Abdominal distention and pain in goat sure seem like an emergency. The belly seems to grow and get tighter by the hour. He looks nearly normal now except for his sunburned belly past his ribs where the vet shaved him for the ultrasound. We'll have to use sunscreen until the hair grows back. We'll keep him with low activity until he acts like his energy is back up. Appetite is improving daily.
I'm glad he's improving so rapidly! I hope he has a complete recovery!