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Liver Fluke

Liver fluke disease is a chronic parasitic disease of the bile ducts. Infection with this parasite occurs through eating fluke-infested, fresh-water raw or under cooked fish.Human liver flukes are parasitic worms called trematodes. The adult (mature) flukes are found in the bile ducts and liver of infected people and animals, such as sheep and cattle.Two Fasciola species (types) infect people. The main species is Fasciola hepatica, which is also known as "the common liver fluke" and "the sheep liver fluke." A related species, Fasciola gigantica, also can infect people.

People living along rivers are prone to infection by flukes because they have a habit of eating raw or under cooked fresh-water fish. This food-borne malady is an important public health issue.Liver fluke infection can be asymptomatic or may cause symptoms related to the biliary system (the liver bile ducts and gallbladder).Patients with severe infection suffer from fatigue and abdominal discomfort. Long standing infection may cause stone formation in the bile ducts and the gallbladder, recurrent bacterial secondary infections in the bile ducts and cancer of the bile ducts.Severe infection can cause an enlarged liver (hepatomegaly) and complaints such as abdominal pain, anorexia, nausea, vomiting and indigestion. Jaundice is due to the mechanical obstruction in the bile ducts caused by a multitude of flukes, or it is due to bile duct obstruction caused by stones, or bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) as a late complication of chronic infection.

 Prevention

Cook water-grown vegetables thoroughly before eating and avoid sewage contamination of growing areas.

 


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