Date Published: March 19, 2019
Author(s): P. A. Shinggu, O. T. Olufemi, J. A. Nwuku, E. B. T. Baba-Onoja, P. D. Iyawa.
Fasciola, Fascioloides, and Dicrocoelium cause liver fluke diseases in ruminants and are of zoonotic and economic importance. This cross-sectional study aimed to determine the prevalence of liver fluke egg infection in White Fulani Cattle slaughtered in Wukari Cattle market abattoir in Wukari, Taraba State. A total of 262 gallbladders were collected and their contents were analyzed for the presence of eggs of liver flukes using sedimentation technique. Descriptive analysis was done using SPSS version 20 for window and Pearson’s Chi-Square (χ2) was used to evaluate the association between variables. Fasciola and Dicrocoelium eggs were encountered. Only 74 (28.2%) samples were positive for Fasciola egg and 211 (80.5%) for Dicrocoelium. The prevalence of liver fluke infection revealed 25% and 28.6% Fasciola eggs for male and female animals, respectively, while lancet fluke had 83.3% for male and 80.3% for female. Fasciola eggs were recovered in 20.8% of animals aged less 3 years (<3yrs) and 29.9% was recorded in animals 3 years and above (≥ 3yrs) while 81.3% for animals ≥ 3yrs and 77.1% for animals <3yrs were recorded for Dicrocoelium eggs. The body condition score-based prevalence for Fasciola yielded 38.1%, 26.8%, and 14% for poor, average, and good, respectively, while Dicrocoelium yielded 85.7%, 79.3%, and 85.7%. There was a significant difference between the body condition scores for fasciolosis. Only 59% harboured single infection with eggs of Dicrocoelium (P< 0.05) while 6.9% harboured Fasciola eggs. Mixed infection associating Fasciola and Dicrocoelium was observed in 21.4% of the sample cattle. Liver fluke infections: fasciolosis and dicrocoeliosis occur among White Fulani cattle in Wukari and these infections are associated with the body condition score of the animals. This greatly affects the cattle production. There is a need to institute adequate control programmes complemented with good well-planned management practices in any production system involving cattle in Wukari.
Liver fluke infections of cattle are caused by digenean trematodes of the genera Fasciola and Dicrocoelium widely referred to as common liver fluke and lancet fluke of ruminants, respectively. Diseases caused by these two genera are fasciolosis and dicrocoeliosis with etiologic agents in tropical Africa as Fasciola gigantica and Dicrocoelium hospes, respectively . The lifecycle of these trematodes involves mollusc as an intermediate host  and the tropical environment in association with the relative abundance of a snail intermediate host that propagates the sporocyst, redia, and cercarial stages of the parasites . Cattle usually get infected after ingesting the metacercarial stage while grazing or in drinking water for Fasciola and following the ingestion of infected ant for Dicrocoelium . These parasites migrate to the bile ducts causing severe pathological changes in the liver. The disease usually results in decreased production of meat, milk, and wool, secondary bacterial infections, fertility problems, loss of weight, poor carcass quality, and great expenses on anthelmintics medication [4, 5]. In addition to their veterinary importance, these flukes are also known zoonosis affecting a number of the human population [6, 7].
Out of the 262 bile specimens examined, 74 (28.2%) samples were found positive for Fasciola egg and 211 (80.5%) for Dicrocoelium spp. The distribution of liver fluke parasites in slaughtered cattle by sex, age, and body condition score is presented in Table 1. The prevalence of liver fluke infection between the two sexes in the current study revealed 25 and 28.6% Fasciola prevalence for male and female, respectively, while lancet fluke recorded a prevalence of 83.3% for male and 80.3% for female. There was no statistical difference between the two sexes (P >0.05). Fasciola infection in the animals ≥3 years was observed to be higher (29.9%) as compared to the animals < 3years: 20.8%. This study also identified that female animals were the most slaughtered at the Wukari abattoir; they account for 90.8% of the total cattle slaughtered. A similar high prevalence of 81.3% for the animals ≥3 years as against 77.1% in animals < 3 years was recorded for Dicrocoelium. Chi-square analysis showed the variation observed for the animals ≥3 years and < 3 years was also not statistically significant (P > 0.05).
The result of this study indicates that the White Fulani breed of cattle slaughtered in Wukari is naturally infected with two varieties of liver flukes. The two species encountered were Fasciola and Dicrocoelium with a prevalence of 28.2 and 80.5%, respectively. They are pathogenic to ruminants and also among important zoonotic trematodes of public health importance [7, 16]. These species of liver flukes were earlier reported from studies conducted in cattle in other parts of Nigeria [8, 10, 17]. The prevalence of Fasciola and Dicrocoelium infections observed in this present study was however high as compared to the 1.7% for Fasciola and 35.4% for Dicrocoelium reported by Ulayi et al., 2007, in Zaria, north-central Nigeria, and 21.1% Fasciola and 18.3% for Dicrocoelium documented by Nwosu and Srivastava (1993) in Maiduguri, northeast of the country. The disparity in findings, as the studies were conducted in the same northern region of the country, does suggest that the prevalence of liver fluke infections varies with differences in geographical locations. The climatic elements and the ecological features of southern guinea savannah, the present study area, contrast those of the arid and semiarid region that characterized the wider north and northeast subregion of Nigeria. These elements exert a major influence on the development and survival of both the potential intermediate hosts and the developmental stages of these flukes. In addition, the pastoral system of management where herds move together to different places in search of pasture particularly along the plains of the three major rivers (Taraba, Benue, and Donga) which runs in the southern part of Taraba state does favour the transmission of these parasites.