FASCIOLOPSIS INFECTION

Fasciolopsis infection is caused by the gigantic intestinal fluke, Fasciolopsis buski. There are several distinct types of flukes, all of which are parasitic flatworms that may infect various areas of the body (blood vessels, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, and liver). F. buski is prevalent in South and Southeast Asia, and both pigs and humans are major carriers of the illness. In endemic regions, the frequency of infection is higher among kids. Fasciolopsis cannot be spread directly between humans. The eggs of these parasites are passed through human (and pig) feces, where they grow in the water and infect snails. After further growth, the parasites abandon the snail intermediate host and encyst on aquatic plants. 

Furthermore, individuals become contaminated with Fasciolopsis infection when they consume undercooked or raw aquatic plants containing the organism encysted on them, or when they consume polluted water or eat plants that contain infectious metacercariae, such as bamboo shoots, watercress, or water chestnuts. Adult worms cling to and ulcerate the proximal small intestinal mucosa. Adult worms have a one-year lifespan.

SYMPTOMS

In most cases, fasciolopsiasis has no symptoms. Severe infections often show symptoms 1-2 months after exposure, and these symptoms can include

  • Anorexia  
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Abdominal  pain
  • Malabsorption 
  • Edema  
  • Ascites 
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Anemia 

DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosis is determined by the microscopic identification of eggs or, less often, adult flukes in the feces or vomitus. The eggs are very identical to those of Fasciola hepatica.

Adult flukes of 1.5 to 3.0 cm in length are seldom detected in feces or surgical specimens. Using ribosomal sequences, attempts have been undertaken to establish a molecular diagnostic tool for distinguishing F. buski from other fasciolids.

TREATMENT

The infection of Fasciolopsis infection may be treated with the oral prescription drug praziquantel. Praziquantel is FDA-approved, however this use is considered exploratory. 

The following are other anthelmintics that may be used:

  • Pyrantel pamoate
  • Oxyclozanide
  • Thiabendazole
  • Mebendazole
  • Levamisole
  • Hexachlorophene 
  • Nitroxynil 

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