"So, naturalists observe, a flea has smaller fleas that on him prey; and these have smaller still to bite ’em; and so proceed ad infinitum."
- Jonathan Swift

July 12, 2010

July 12 - Opisthorchis felineus

Recently, the U.S. just traded some spies with Russia. Hopefully we didn't also trade parasites. Opisthorchis felineus is a liver fluke that primarily infects cats, as its name suggests, but it is also sometimes called the "Siberian Liver Fluke" because of its prevalence in Russia. It's a typical trematode with a complicated life cycle, which in this case involves snails, then fish and then finally fish-eating mammals such as cats or, sometimes, humans. The disease in humans can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer. Over a million Russians are infected and given the amount of vodka that gets drunk in Russia, that sounds like a pretty bad combination.

Image is from this site.

1 comment:

  1. The distribution of this fluke is highly dependent mainly on the occurrence of its 1st intermediate hosts, Bithynia leachi. Contrary to the opinion of many parasitological textbooks this fluke is not restricted to Russia and northern Kazakhstan where most of the human cases can be detected due to eating habits in relation with freshwater fish. O. felineus can be found also in Central Europe. The examination of livers of red foxes in the German capital Berlin and its surroundings showed that a high percentage of them are infected with this fluke.