Fascioliasis is a parasitic infection typically caused by Fasciola hepatica
, which is also known as “the common liver fluke” or “the sheep liver fluke.” A related parasite, Fasciola gigantica
, also can infect people. Fascioliasis is found in all continents except Antarctica, in over 70 countries, especially where there are sheep or cattle. People usually become infected by eating raw watercress or other water plants contaminated with immature parasite larvae. The young worms move through the intestinal wall, the abdominal cavity, and the liver tissue, into the bile ducts, where they develop into mature adult flukes that produce eggs. The pathology typically is most pronounced in the bile ducts and liver. Fasciola
infection is both treatable and preventable.
Above Images: Left: Fasciola hepatica egg in an unstained wet mount (400x magnification). F. hepatica eggs are broadly ellipsoidal, operculated, and measure 130–150 μm by 60–90 µm. Center: Adult Fasciola hepatica fluke stained with carmine (30mm x 13mm). Right: Fossaria bulamoides, a snail host for F. hepatica in the western United States. (Credit: DPDx; Conchology, Inc., Mactan Island, Philippines)