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Oriental Liver Fluke

By Rebecca Hernandez

An adult liver fluke in its full glory
An adult liver fluke in all its glory.

Mmmm… bile! There’s not a tastier treat for Clonorchis sinensis, the Oriental liver fluke.

These little worms hatch from their eggs inside tiny aquatic snails. Once they’ve grown to a larval stage they swim in search of bigger fish to… penetrate. All they want now if for someone for come along and eat their piscine palace.

Once the larvae reach a person's intestines, they immediately make their way to the bile ducts and mature into their adult form. Liver flukes can then live in their human host for up to fifty years, but fortunately don’t grow much larger than 25 millimeters in length. (see a diagram of the fluke's lifecycle)

The fluke can co-exist quite peacefully with its host up to a point: it takes about a thousand worms to really cause damage. However, the fluke does reproduce inside its host (sometimes even depositing eggs into the liver itself) so populations can increase if no treatment is provided.

Estimated number of people infected: 30 million

Danger of death
: The fluke itself is unlikely to kill you; however, it does like to hang around with the Salmonella bug, which isn’t so nice.

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10 Feb 2009
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