If it is not mosquitoes then it is animals that are the culprit in many diseases that infect humans. The World Health Organization (WHO) labels fascioliasis as one of these diseases that you can get from animals.
The disease is caused by a trematode organism usually called a fluke. Once considered a neglected disease by the WHO, fascioliasis is become more common in areas with unsanitary conditions around livestock like parts of Europe, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Oceania and more.
Once considered an animal disease, it has jumped to humans, typically through the fecal route. Vulnerable animals that likely harbor the fasciola hepatica and fasciola gigantica trematode flukes include domestic animals like sheep, donkeys, pigs, cattle and buffalo. Other animals that can carry this carrier of disease include goats, horses, llamas, rodents, rabbits and camels.
The Cycle of Development of Fascioliasis
Animals pick up the parasitic eggs through contaminated water or food and ingest them. They are then passed through their feces. This parasite egg-riddled feces then contaminates water sources where the eggs hook up with certain types of snails which harbor them.
Then the larvae mature and the snail release them. This larvae then latches onto grass and other vegetation where they encase themselves in some type of covering to wait things out.
You could pick up Fascioliasis by ingesting the encased larvae of this parasite. This could occur by swimming in infected waters and accidentally swallowing some water. It could happen by drinking contaminated water with these encased larvae or even by food prepared with the contaminated water.
Fascioliasis can be quite serious as the eggs of this parasite fluke hatch and they grow into quite a size up to 1¼ inches in length for the F. hepatica fluke and up to 3 inches for the F. gigantica. These sizes are reflective of its true livestock origins. The incubation period could be just a few days to several months and there are several phases of the disease.
The acute phase occurs when the traveling of young flukes pass through the liver causing swelling and bleeding, causing pain, rashes, fever and breathing problems. The chronic phase occurs when these parasites invade the bile ducts.
While symptoms like those listed above may be mild, damage is occurring with swelling as well as the development of thickened areas along the walls of the bile ducts and gall bladder. Blockage of these areas can occur resulting in more serious complications. In addition, cirrhosis of the liver can occur as well as scarring.
Treatment of Fascioliasis
There are treatment options available for Fascioliasis like the drug triblabendazole. The goal of this drug is to kill the parasite causing the disease. For the most part, if caught in a reasonable time frame, the rate of curing this disease is quite high. While there are some mild reactions to the drugs, they are temporary.
The WHO has pledged to work harder at eradicating this particular disease, especially since it was primarily an animal parasitic disease. Through sanitary conditions, education about the spread of the disease and medical help, Fascioliasis can be wiped out and you can enjoy your traveling abroad.
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