Fluke worms, also known as trematodes, cause serious health problems to infested humans. The most common locations for infection are Africa and the Far East, but there is also a risk of infection from food imported from these areas.
The blood fluke is found in Africa and the Far East and currently infects approximately 250 million people. The trematode enters through an opening in the skin and then lives in the human's lungs, heart and circulation system.
Giant Intestinal Flukes
The giant intestinal fluke is common to southeast and central Asia and enters the body by eating infected water chestnuts. This group of flukes lives in the human small intestine.
Liver flukes are found in all parts of the world and are contracted by eating undercooked watercress. The liver is the primary organ damaged by this group of trematodes.
Spindloid flukes are ingested by eating raw or undercooked fish. The bile ducts are damaged by the spindloid fluke infestation.
The lung fluke is most commonly found in Asia, South America and Africa where infested crab meat is eaten. The fluke creates a tissue capsule in the lungs creating a dry cough and occasionally pleurisy.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Dr. Abdul Ghaffar and Dr. Gregory Brower of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine report that flukes are commonly diagnosed by locating eggs in the human urine or stool and are treated with the drug Praziquantel.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of José Antonio Gil Martínez
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