The parasites Fasciola gigantica and Fasciola hepatica cause fascioliasis. Fasciola hepatica is also known as "the sheep liver fluke" and "the common liver fluke." Both types are flatworms that mainly affect the liver. The parasites exist on every continent except Antarctica, but developing countries report the most cases of fascioliasis. Some cases reported in Western Europe and even a few in the United States. Fascioliasis is both treatable and preventable.
The fasciola life cycle begins when infected animals such as cattle, sheep, buffalo, llamas, and other herbivores defecate in freshwater sources. The eggs of the infected animals hatch into larvae and infect a type of water snail, where they begin to reproduce, releasing more larvae into the water. After attaching to the stems and leaves of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants, the larvae create small cysts. Humans get the parasite by ingesting infected aquatic plants such as watercress and water mint.
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