Livestock Research for Rural Development 26 (9) 2014 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

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Prevalence and financial losses associated with bovine fasciolosis at Lyantonde Town abattoir

G Ssimbwa, S A Baluka and M Ocaido1

Department of Biosecurity, Ecosystems and Public health, College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB),
P.O.BOX 7062, Kampala Uganda.
1Department of Wildlife and Aquatic Animal Resources, School of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity, College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB), P.O.BOX 7062, Kampala Uganda.


A study was done to determine the prevalence of bovine fasciolosis and its associated financial losses in the cattle slaughtered at Lyantonde Town Abattoir by examining the bovine livers.

Out of the 260 livers examined, 35.8% were infested. Of the livers infested 29%, 30% and 41% were severely, moderately and mildly infested respectively. Of the infested livers 25% were totally condemned while 75% were partially condemned. There was a highly significant (X2= 9.75; P=0.0018) prevalence of fasciolosis in females (50%, n=52) than males (30.7%, n=48). There was a highly significant (X2= 4.7; P=0.031) more prevalence of fasciolosis in adults (44.8%; n=60) than sub-adults. Steers had less prevalence of fasciolosis than any other age group (P<0.01). There was higher prevalence (X2 = 23; P=,0.001) and greater severity (X2=9.6 P=0.0024) of fasciolosis in exotic than local cattle breeds. There was greater severity of fasciolosis in cows than any other age-sex group. During the 44 days study period, 103kg of liver were condemned which were equivalent to 330 US Dollars lost during the study period that was extrapolated to USD 2703 annually. The study recommended that farmers should adopt proper methods of controlling fasciolosis which include regular de-worming of cattle with correct doses and regime; and use of molluscides to kill snails in the breeding places where cattle graze.

Key words: animal health, disease, liver


Despite the great contribution of the livestock sector to the economy and livelihood to the people of Uganda, the livestock sector is constrained by many challenges which include: poor management practices, lack of enough capital to buy inputs, the existence of endemic diseases among others (Njoku 2007). The endemic diseases of cattle in Uganda include East coast fever, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and fasciolosis (Njoku 2007). Fasciolosis also known as liver fluke infestation is one of the important diseases affecting cattle and other ruminants (Njoku 2007).

In East Africa and Uganda, Fasciola gigantica vectored by a water snail Lymnaea natalensis is the most important fluke (Ombui 2004, Ekwenife and Eneanya 2006). Factors that favor occurrence of fasciolosis are moisture and temperature that allow persistent surface wetness on pasture for the snail and free-living stages of the parasite to thrive (Ekwenife and Eneanya 2006). Grazing of cattle in wetlands during dry season promotes infestation of cattle with fasciolosis. Clinical signs of fasciolosis include weight loss, anemia, diarrhea and sub-mandibular edema due to hypo albuminaemia (Abebe et al 2010). These clinical signs are not pathognomonic and the effects of fasciolosis on the affected animals may not be easily recognized. Hence diagnosis of fasciolosis is often difficult due to the fact that many diseases are characterized by the same clinical signs.

This problem is compounded by the fact that the host response to the parasite occurs during the invasive stage prior to egg production. Therefore demonstration of Fasciola eggs in the faecal samples which is a common basis for diagnosis occurs when the liver has already been damaged (Maqboo et al 2012). The easiest means of diagnosing fasciolosis is usually inspection done at postmortem, which is already too late for intervention. Abattoir liver inspection studies have shown a high prevalence of fasciolosis, 32.3% in Adwa municipal abattoir in Ethiopia (Abebe et al 2010), 14.05% at Hai town abattoir in Tanzania (Swai and Ulicky 2009), 24.6% at Quetta in Pakistan (Maqboo et al 2012) and 32% in Arusha abattoir in Tanzania (Mwabonimana et al 2009). Abattoir studies have also shown that significant economic losses occur due to liver condemnation (Abebe et al 2010, Swai and Ulicky 2009, Mwabonimana et al 2009, Aragaw et al 2012, Mulugeta et al 2012).

Fasciolosis causes economic losses to cattle farmers and cattle traders by causing; affected cattle to lose body condition, unthriftness, reduced growth rate, fertility and draught power, reduced milk production, increased costs of anthelmintics, drenches, labor and losses due to condemned livers at slaughter and sometimes mortalities (Molima 2005, Terefe et al 2012).

The study was conducted to estimate the prevalence of fasciolosis and financial losses caused by fasciolosis among cattle slaughtered at Lyantonde town abattoir.

Materials and methods

The study was carried out at Lyantonde Town Abattoir located along Kaliiro road in Lyantonde sub-county in Lyantonde district, Uganda. Lyantonde district lies within Uganda’s cattle corridor and is located in the Central region bordering Kiruhura district to the West, Lwengo district to the East, Rakai district to the South and Sembabule district to the North. The district is named after the “chief town” Lyantonde where the district headquarters are located.

Lyantonde district experiences two rainy seasons and two dry seasons. The rainy seasons are in September-November and March-May while the dry seasons are in December-February and June-August. The people in the district derive their livelihood mainly from rearing livestock and growing crops. Among the livestock, cattle are the most important source of meat and milk. Lyantonde district cattle herd is estimated at 837,000 heads of cattle, mostly Ankole, Zebu and cross breeds. Other livestock kept are goats, sheep, pigs and poultry. A variety of crops including sweet bananas, matooke, beans, maize, potatoes, cassava, and millet are grown for both subsistence and commercial purposes (MAAIF 2009).

A cross-sectional study was conducted between December 2012 and March 2013. Bovine fasciolosis was investigated by conducting daily post-mortem (PM) examinations of the livers, by dissecting them to expose the bile ducts and then observing the gross lesions caused by Fasciola. During PM liver inspections, the following were recorded: the date of inspection, the place of origin of the slaughter animal, age, sex, breed and the presence or absence of Fasciola lesions on the liver.

The research involved proper physical ante-mortem (AM) of the slaughter cattle and post-mortem (PM) examinations of the livers. The abattoir operates from Monday to Saturday every week and slaughters take place between 7:00 am and 9:00am. AM examination was conducted while cattle are in the boma or lairages which are provided with adequate lighting and restraint infrastructure for restricting animal movements and allow for observation and or palpation where necessary. After dressing the red offal particularly the livers are separated from the carcasses. The carcasses are hanged on the rails in the inspection hall while the livers are hanged on hooks in a separate room where they are examined. PM examination of the livers was conducted by the researchers with the support of the designated abattoir meat inspectors and a total of 260 livers were examined. The PM examination for the carcasses is done along the rails in the inspection hall which is well light and organized leaving enough space between the rails or rows to facilitate movement of inspectors. The interest and focus of the current research was PM examination of the livers which was done in ‘the red offal room’ at the liver inspection station which is adequately light to ensure good visibility by the inspectors or the researchers in this case. The pluck was carefully removed from the carcass and placed at the inspection station where the liver was thoroughly examined to detect the presence of fibrosis, color changes, fatty changes and Fasciola. The degree of severity of bovine fasciolosis was graded into mild, moderate and severe. For the livers which had only one bile duct affected, they were graded as mildly infested. The livers that had 2-4 bile ducts affected were graded as moderately infested, while those that had more than four bile ducts affected were graded as severely infested.

Every liver was trimmed at the portal zones to expose the main bile duct, smaller bile ducts and bile calculi for presence of Fasciola infestation. Fluke infested liver parts including lesions caused by the flukes such as necrotic infarcts and tracts made by immature migrating parasites were trimmed and disposed-off. The remaining healthy liver parts would be passed for human consumption. However, livers that were so severely affected to the extent that trimming would not leave any healthy part were totally condemned and discarded off. All condemned liver portions and whole livers were weighed in kilograms (Kg) using a weighing scale.

The total number of livers examined, the number of livers infected, number of livers partially condemned and number of livers totally condemned were determined and the livers partially and totally condemned were computed and the percentage of livers infested i.e. prevalence of fasciolosis was determined.

The financial losses associated with bovine fasciolosis due liver condemnation were calculated by multiplying the total weight of the livers condemned during the period of study by the price per Kilogram of liver. Annual financial losses were determined by extrapolating losses incurred during study period (44 days). This was done by dividing the monetary losses during the period of study by the number of days (44 days), then multiplying by 30 days (for 1 month) and 12 months (per year).

Descriptive statistics were computed. At a 95% confidence level, a Chi-square test was used to compare whether there was significant difference of prevalence of fasciolosis between different segments / attributes of the cattle brought to the Lyantonde town abattoir.


The prevalence of bovine fasciolosis was found to be 38.55.9 % (n=100). Of the livers infested 29%, 30% and 41% were severely, moderately and mildly infested respectively. There was no significant difference (P>0.05) on prevalence of degree of severity of liver Fasciola infestation lesions. The percentage prevalence of fasciolosis according to sex, age and breed were as shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Percentage prevalence of fasciolosis according to sex, age and breed
Attribute Number
Prevalence X² P value
Percentage prevalence Confidence interval at p<0.05
Sex Male 156 62 39.7 32.0 - 47.4 9.8 0.0018
Females 104 52 50.0 40.4 – 59.6
Age Adults 134 60 44.8 36.4 – 53.2 4.7 0.031
sub adults 126 40 31.8 23.7 - 39.9
Breed Local (Ankole) 145 37 25.5 18.4 – 32.6 23.2 0.0000
Exotic (Friesian) 115 63 54.8 45.7 -63.9    

Percentage prevalence of fasciolosis with confidence interval according to age groups and level of significant difference between age groups were as shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Percentage prevalence of fasciolosis with confidence interval according to age groups and level of significant difference between age groups

Age group



Level of


Confidence interval at p<0.05




33.7 - 59.1

P < 0.01




14.4 – 31.0




34.0 -56.6

P < 0.01




44.4 -79.8

P < 0.001

Table 3. Sex variation of percentage prevalence of different degrees of infestation of livers with Fasciola flukes among those cattle which were found positive with fasciolosis

Age group

Percentage prevalence of different degree of liver infestation with flukes

Number positive
with fasciolosis














The degree of severity of infestation according to sex, age groups and breeds among those cattle which were found positive with fasciolosis were as shown in Tables 3, 4 and 5 respectively.

Table 4. Age variation of prevalence of different degrees of infestation of livers with Fasciola flukes among those cattle which were found positive with fasciolosis

Age group

Percentage prevalence of different degree of liver infestation with flukes

Number positive with fasciolosis
























There was no significant difference (X² = 3; P = 0.097) of severe severity of fasciolosis between males and females. Meanwhile there was significant difference (P < 0.05) in severity of fasciolosis in cows than any other age group. Also there was highly significant difference (X² = 9.6; P = 0.0024) between breeds with exotic being more severely been affected by fasciolosis.

Table 5. Breed variation of prevalence of different degrees of infestation of livers with Fasciola flukes among those cattle which were found positive with fasciolosis.

Age group

Percentage prevalence of different degree of liver infestation with flukes

Number positive with fasciolosis




Local (Ankole)





Exotic (Friesian)





The area prevalence for fasciolosis was determined by considering total number of cattle that originated from a given area and the number that was positive for Fasciola (Table 6).

Table 6. The percentage prevalence of fasciolosis according to the area of origin

Area of origin

Number examined



Confidence interval P < 0.05




19.6 - 52.4




13.0 - 45.0




27.2 - 54.8




30.4 - 65.6




19.1 - 52.9




20.2 - 49.8




15.9 - 56.1




27.6 - 68.4




32.6 - 44.4

Of the livers with fasciolosis 25 % (n = 25) were totally condemned and 75% were partially condemned. Market price for each Kg of liver was Uganda Shillings 8,000 equivalent to USD 3.2 at an exchange rate of 1USD to 2,500 Uganda Shillings. During the study period of 44 days, the losses incurred due to liver condemnations were as shown in Table 7 and the losses annually were estimated at USD 2703.3.

Table 7. Weight of liver tissues and financial loss due to liver condemnation


Weight of the liver condemned (Kg)

Financial loss in Ugandan Shillings (UgShs)

Financial loss in US Dollars (USD)

Dec 2012




March 2013









The study found that prevalence of bovine fasciolosis was 38.5% in Lyantonde Town Abattoir. This abattoir was a catchment area for cattle coming from Lyantonde district and neighboring districts of Kiruhura, Rakai district and Sembabule. These areas are characterized semi-arid climate where there are two dry seasons (June-August and December-February) and two wet seasons (March-May and September-November). Cattle use wetlands for grazing and watering during the dry seasons. This could explain the observed high prevalence of fasciolosis among slaughter cattle in this abattoir. This situation could be exacerbated by no or no proper cattle de-worming regime and nomadic movement of cattle during the dry seasons.

The prevalence reported in this study was as high as 14.05% of that obtained at Hai town abattoir in Tanzania (Swai and Ulicky 2009 ), 15.2% in Quetta in Pakistan (Maqboo et al 2012), 8.61% at Khonkaen province Thailand (Neamjui et al 2012) and 10.4% in the state of Rio Grande do sul, in Brazil (Oprescu et al 2010). A similar prevalence of 35% had been reported at Assela municipal abattoir in Ethiopia (Mulugeta et al 2012), 32.3% at Adwa municipal abattoir in Ethiopia (Abebe et al 2010), 32% in Arusha abattoir in Tanzania (Mwabonimana et al 2009) and 43.7% at slopes of Mount Elgon (Howell et al 2012). However the fasciolosis prevalence found in this study was found to be lower than what had been reported for most areas studied in Ethiopia. For example, prevalence of over 80% has been reported in Keffa (Bahiru and Ephrem 1979), DebreBerhan (Dagne 1994) and Western Shoa (Yadeta 1994). Also prevalence of 50%-63% has been reported in Ethiopia in Gonder (Bahiru and Ephrem 1979), around Tan (Yehenew 1985) and Bahir Dar (Fekadu 1988).

There was a significant difference in fasciolosis prevalence in relation to sex, age and breed. Fasciolosis prevalence was higher in females than males, which was contrary to what was reported in Asella Municipal abattoir (Mulugeta et al 2012). The adult cows developed more severe lesions than any other age group (Table 3). This may be attributed to lowered immunity during pregnancy and lactation periods (Howell et al 2012). Adult cattle (cows and bulls) had significantly higher fasciolosis prevalence than the sub-adults (steers and heifers). This could be due to the fact that adults have age summative cumulative infection.

By Age group, the steers had lower fasciolosis prevalence as compared to other age groups (Table 1). There was no significant difference of fasciolosis prevalence among other age groups. Steers tended to be sold and slaughtered when they were relatively young (Ocaido et al 2009) when they could have not been exposed to many Fasciola metacercaria challenge bouts. This was contrary to what was reported by (Mulugeta et al 2012) where bovine fasciolosis (BF) rates decreased with age.

The current study also found that BF was more prevalent and more severe in exotics/crosses than in the local cattle. This may be due to the fact that the exotics are generally more susceptible to tropical diseases than the locals. This has been shown to be true elsewhere (Seifert1996).

This study estimated that 845 Kg equivalent to USD 2703.3 could be lost annually due to condemnation of livers due to bovine fasciolosis, similar financial losses have been reported at Assela Municipal abattoir in Ethiopia which were estimated at USD 2806 (Mulugeta et al 2012), Hai municipal abattoir in Tanzania worth USD 2,096 (Swai and Ulicky 2009), and USD 1,500 in Arusha abattoir (Mwabonimana et al 2009). The financial losses reported could be much higher if the losses caused by weight loss were included. A study done in Asela Municipal Abattoir in Ethiopia (Mulugeta et al 2012) found that losses associated with fasciolosis weight loss were 17.5 times more than losses caused by liver condemnation. The projections were based on the fact that fasciolosis caused 10% weight loss.

Condemnation of large quantity of liver tissue reduces its availability and increases its price (Ibironke and Fasina 2010) thus making it unaffordable by the vulnerable people who need it most. Liver tissue is a very rich source of nutrients including proteins, some important vitamins (A, D, E and K) and minerals. Liver is often recommended for pregnant mothers, children and for prevention and treatment of anemia and deficiencies of minerals and vitamins (Ibironke and Fasina 2010). Liver rejection at the abattoir tends to increase the level of aggression by butchers who sometimes bear the complete financial burden of such condemnation (Wamae et al 1998, Ibironke and Fasina 2010). Fasciolosis also has public health significance and it has been shown that Fasciola can cause human fasciolosis (Molima 2005).

Prevention and control measures should be instituted in cattle keeping areas which are the catchment areas for Lyantonde abattoir so as reduce pasture contamination with infective larvae. Prevention and control measures involve reducing adult fluke burdens to a minimum using communal tactical treatment of cattle towards the end of the dry season when the major source of infection is adult worms since the eggs expelled have no chance of hatching and few metacercariae are available on the vegetation (Molima 2005). This should be coupled with reducing exposure to high risk grazing areas with large snail populations hence metacercarie (Charlier et al 2008). The catchment areas for this abattoir have high risk areas such as low lying, marshy portions of grazing land and water dams. When animals are grazed in low lying swamps during the dry season they should be strategically drenched every 8-10 weeks with fasciocidal drugs. Egg production could be controlled by using rafoxamide or closantel at 5-6 weeks interval (Molima 2005). Water dams used for watering cattle should be fenced off and vegetation at the edges should be trimmed so as to make the environment less favorable for snails (Charlier et al 2008). Attempts should be done to reduce the snail population by use of environmentally friendly molluscicide salts (Seifert 1996). Plants with molluscide properties like Phytolaccadodecandra and Eucalyptus species should be planted strategically around the water dams and marshy grazing areas (Seifert 1996).



We acknowledge the support and cooperation of Dr. Sekawojjwa Edward, the Lyantonde District Veterinary Officer and the Meat Inspector at Lyantonde Town abattoir, Mr. Akatuha Herbert.


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Received 15 June 2014; Accepted 11 August 2014; Published 5 September 2014

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