What is a Fluke Parasite?
Fluke parasites are a type of parasitic flatworm or trematode that can cause infections and diseases of the digestive tract and lungs of its host species. The name “trematode” is Greek in origin, meaning, “having holes.” This refers to the external suckers that adult flukes use to leech nutrients from their hosts.
Fluke parasites have fairly complex life cycles and must generally inhabit several hosts. Humans can contract a fluke parasite infection by consuming uncooked fish, plants, or animals or from contact with fluke-infected waters.
Where is a Fluke Parasite Found?
A Fluke parasite is commonly found throughout Africa, South American, the Middle East, and Asia. While it is not very common, there have been reports of flukes being found in North America.
Do Fluke Parasites Affect Humans?
There are several different species of flukes, and each one resides in a different location in its human host, and affects the human body differently. Generally, a fluke parasite will inhabit the intestinal tract or the lungs. Diseases caused by liver flukes include fascioliasis, opisthorchiasis, and clonorchiasis.
There have been documented cases of liver fluke parasite infection in Europe, the United States, the Middle East, China, Japan, and Africa. Lung flukes are responsible for diseases such as paragonimiasis, a common infection in the Far East, Southeast Asia, Africa, Central and South America, Indonesia, and the Pacific Islands. According to international experts, there are roughly fifty million liver and lung fluke infections cases worldwide.
What Are The Types of Fluke Parasite Infections?
The sheep liver fluke parasite, Fasciola hepatica, is responsible for the development of fascioliasis. Humans can become infected with this fluke via the consumption of watercress, water chestnuts, or other plants that are contaminated with parasitic cysts.
Once inside the human body, the fluke parasite will pass through the digestive system and travel to the liver, where it will cause inflammation and tissue destruction. Adult flukes can persist for ten to fifteen in the liver before they proceed to the bile ducts to lay their eggs. Symptoms of parasite infection, specifically fascioliasis include headaches, rashes, muscle pain, jaundice, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, anemia, nausea, and vomiting.
Opisthorchiasis & Clonorchiasis
Both opisthorchiasis and clonorchiasis are caused by the Chinese liver fluke, Clonorchis sinensis, and Opisthorchis viverrini or Opisthorchis felineus. These infections occur frequently throughout the world, affecting more than 20 million people in Japan, China, Southeast Asia, and India. Humans may become infected by one of these fluke parasites by ingesting undercooked or raw fish that is contaminated.
The symptoms of opisthorchiasis and clonorchiasis include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, swollen liver, fatigue, headaches, rashes, muscle pain, and fever.
There are two types of lung fluke, Paragonimus westermani or Paragonimus skrjabini that may be responsible for the development of paragonimiasis. Lung flukes are generally larger than liver flukes, but their life cycle is similar. Humans may contract a lung fluke infection by eating raw or undercooked crabs and crayfish or drinking from a contaminated water supply.
Once inside the human body, lung flukes will travel to the small intestine and then migrate towards the lungs. Fluke parasites lay their eggs and cause inflammation and scar tissue to develop. In many instances, these pockets of infection will rupture, causing the infected individual to cough up fluke eggs, blood, and inflamed lung tissue. In addition to coughing, other symptoms of a lung fluke infection include chest pain, fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bloody sputum.
Lung fluke parasite infections can also lead to the development of other conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or a lung abscess. In one percent of the cases, lung flukes may continue traveling through the body until they reach the brain. Patients with fluke parasite infections of the brain may experience seizures or a fatal inflammation of the tissue in the brain called encephalitis.
How Can I Prevent a Fluke Parasite Infection?
The best way to prevent a fluke infection is to be sure that you kill any flukes that may be attached to the meat and vegetables that you eat. Wash and peel raw fruits and vegetables. And carefully cook meats to the appropriate temperature. Processes such as salting, pickling, drying, and smoking do not always kill the fluke parasites in meat.
Always be sure to steer clear of water that is from a questionable or unknown source. A fluke parasite can be transmitted to humans by swimming or bathing in contaminated water or drinking water that is infected with flukes. If you are not sure of the quality of the water, buy a water filter before drinking it.Also, as flukes can infect fish and aquatic plants, avoid eating raw or undercooked fish or salads made from aquatic vegetables.
You can also try to kill off interntal flukes by doing a parasite cleanse. There are many ways to do a cleansing of these harmful organisms, so be sure to do the proper research.
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