The trematode parasite known as the Cat Liver Fluke (Opisthorchis felineus) is found mainly in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and can cause liver fluke disease in infected human hosts. Liver fluke disease is a chronic parasitic inflammatory disease of the bile ducts. Infection occurs through ingestion of raw or undercooked fluke-infested freshwater fish. The best known liver flukes causing human infection are Opisthorchis felineus, O. viverrini, and Clonorchis sinensis. Adult flukes settle in the small intrahepatic bile ducts of the host, then live there for 20 to 30 years. The long-lived flukes cause long-lasting chronic inflammation of the bile ducts and this produces epithelial hyperplasia, periductal fibrosis, and bile duct dilatation. The vast majority of human hosts are asymptomatic, but individuals with heavy infections may suffer from lassitude and nonspecific abdominal complaints. Complications include stone formation, recurrent pyogenic cholangitis, and cholangiocarcinoma. Approximately 35 million people are infected with liver flukes throughout the world and the exceptionally high incidence of cholangiocarcinoma in some endemic areas is closely associated with a high prevalence of liver fluke infection. Lim (2011) reviewed the parasitology, epidemiology, and clinical findings and complications of liver fluke infection.
(Lim 2011 and references therein)
- Lim, J.H. 2011. Liver Flukes: the Malady Neglected. Korean Journal of Radiology. 12(3): 269-279.
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