What is Liver Fluke?

Dee Saale
Dee Saale

Infection by the liver fluke parasite is a major health concern for millions of people, specifically those living in the Far East, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. In addition, because of the large amount of travel between countries, fluke infection is becoming more prominent in areas where the disease has not previously been found, such as in North America. There are several kinds of medical conditions that people infected by the parasite may experience, each dependent on the kind of parasite that has embedded itself into its host.

Infection by the liver fluke parasite is a major health concern for millions of people, especially those living in the Far East, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.
Infection by the liver fluke parasite is a major health concern for millions of people, especially those living in the Far East, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

The sheep liver fluke, also called the Fasciola hepatica, and the Fasciola gigantica, are two kinds of parasites that typically infect herbivores – like sheep – but can also cause infection in humans. Usually, the eggs of the fluke are discharged in the stool of an infected animal. The eggs then embryonate in water, releasing miracidia, and then infect a snail as the intermediate host. Once inside the snail, the parasite transforms itself into metacercariae until it is ready to release itself from the snail and wait on plant life, such as watercress, for unsuspecting herbivores or humans to eat it. The animal, or the human, eats the plant and consequently, the parasite, and becomes infected.

Sheep liver fluke parasites typically infect herbivores, but can also infect humans.
Sheep liver fluke parasites typically infect herbivores, but can also infect humans.

In humans, it takes the nearly three to four months for the metacercariae to develop into an adult liver fluke of the F. hepatica or the F. gigantica varieties. However, once they are fully grown, they can be 30 – 75 mm, respectively. The related medical condition is called fascioliasis. Fascioliasis is most common where cattle and sheep are raised and where humans consume watercress. Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, and eosinophilia; however, nearly 50% of those affected do not have any symptoms at all.

Abdominal pain can be caused by flukes burrowing into a person's liver.
Abdominal pain can be caused by flukes burrowing into a person's liver.

The other common parasites that cause a fluke infection are the Opisthorchis viverrini, Clonorchis sinensis, and Opisthorchis felineus. They are endemic in nature in areas of Eastern Europe and East Asia. One 2001 study in Thailand has concluded that nearly 6 million individuals have Opisthorchiasis, an infection due to liver fluke. Most often, infection occurs where cyprinoid fish that is uncooked is common in the diet.

Those with liver flukes may suffer from an enlarged gall bladder.
Those with liver flukes may suffer from an enlarged gall bladder.

Because this variety of parasite is foodborne, they are very common. For example, if there is inadequate sanitation and poor infrastructure for raw sewage, humans can easily become infected with the C. sinensis and O. viverrini liver fluke parasites. The eggs of the parasites pass into the sources of water through feces where they attach to snails. When they release themselves from the snails as cercariae, they find the cyprinoid fish as hosts. There they attach to the fish skin, fins, and muscles and transform into metacercariae and when humans consume the raw fish, they become infected with the fluke and the related disease, Opisthorchiasis.

Again, most people who are affected by flukes or who have Opisthorchiasis do not have any symptoms. However, those who are infected can suffer from abdominal pain, fatigue, and enlarged gall bladder. In addition, the parasites O. viverrini and C. sinensis are considered carcinogens, and may cause cancer. Luckily, there are some pharmaceuticals that may help cure those affected by the liver fluke parasites.

Symptoms of fascioliasis may include abdominal pain.
Symptoms of fascioliasis may include abdominal pain.
Dee Saale
Dee Saale

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

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My wife had all sorts of intestinal parasites from 15 years of humanitarian work in the Middle East and Africa. She suffered abdominal pain, irregularity, bloating. She had tried every medical and home remedy she could find in Europe and USA. One dose of tribendimidine worked with few mild adverse side effects. I am a Vietnam vet (1969) and did not have any symptoms of liver flukes. My wife insisted I try tribendimidine and I soon saw little red things that looked like tomato skins in the commode. I'd had flukes for 50 years and did not know it.


@anon965209 Cleanses are good, but they are not thorough so you may get re-infested. That's what happened to my wife, over and over until she found tribendimidine.


@anon326477 Some you can see easily, eggs and others you may have to use a strainer to find. If you have doubts, you can get a blood test to see if you are infested


The latest most effective treatment for liver flukes is Tribendimidine. Few side effects wide spectrum if other parasites are present. My wife spent 15 years doing humanitarian work in the Middle East and North Africa. No one told her about the worms. She had several types, including liver flukes. She had tried everything prescription and non-prescription. Then her research turned up Tribendimidine. She looked everywhere and finally got some from China. We had read all the clinical trials and followed their guidelines on dosage and timing. She took 600mg one weekend and had truly amazing results. She was relieved of stomach cramps, irregularity and all of the worms. Her liver had never tested normal since she came back to the states. After one dose, the tests came back normal.

Because I am a Vietnam vet, she insisted I take some too. 800mg was the highest dose tested in the clinical trials, so that’s what I took. I was surprised to see those little red things in my commode. I had them all these years without any symptoms. There are links to the clinical trials online. You can also buy it should you choose to do so.


I have just discovered that I have what looks just like liver flukes (from photos on the internet).

After taking the drug Metronodinazol (Flagyl) for gum surgery, I passed hundreds of these things while taking this drug. It looked like bits of tomato skins floating in the toilet bowl after flushing until I decided to take a closer look one day. It was quite a shock! I would never have known I had them if it weren't for the surgeon prescribing this drug an antibiotic, which it turns out is also used to treat parasitic infections.

I am waiting to see my doctor and have sent in samples for testing, some of which are almost half an inch in length. By the way, I live in Hawaii and love watercress, but will never eat it again! Hope this is of some help to someone. I think once the adults are dead and passed in the stool, it is easy to identify them but much harder when still in the egg stage, as it often does not show up in tests.


The Parasitiology Center, Inc. in Scottsdale, AZ (Dr. Omar Amin, Director) found E. Histolitica, and provided a microscopic photo! I had diarrhea symptoms for years after eating at a Chinese restaurant. Several stool tests from different labs were negative. --CJ


I had over 800 liver flukes. Half of them looked like rolled up tomato skins and the other half looked like potato skins in the shape of leaves.

I did a liver cleanse diet and kept my body at PH8 for 14 days during which time I passed these flukes as well as many other parasites - mainly hookworm.


Can you see theme with the naked eye?


I was in Southeast Asia during the mid 60s and had no obvious symptoms, but over a year ago I knew I had a health problem.

In January, I passed a 2"x1/2"x-1/8" thing in my stool,which did not go down with the flush of the toilet. After questions in my head were going around and around, I got a stick and retrieved the thing from toilet. I looked at it with my magnifying glass and I realized it was not an undigested sort of food.

So I started to research books and the web. I visually identified it as a fluke parasite, which can survive in the host (humans) for up to 40-50 years, then the next symptom is the last: death. After four separate stool tests, two at the VA and two independent labs, the results all were negative for eggs. Any information would be appreciated about what or where I should go next.


I want to know how long the cyst can live on non-moist, non-water-touching plants, like once it gets too tall to be in the water.


I am currently in an Asian hospital with liver fluke that was not diagnosed for eight months, by which time my liver was damaged significantly. It is hard to catch and difficult to diagnose as it is so rare, the doctors I went to did not know to look for it until it was too late. Testing is via an Elisa blood test. Triclobendazole treats it but the damage to my immune system and liver are immense, may never heal and it is very painful.

If you suspect liver fluke, ask for a test. This was caused by watercress which I have only had twice in my life, both times from the same place.

I had multiple symptoms, pain, fatigue, nausea, anorexia, muscle aches and pains, fever and eventually rigors and severe shoulder and rib pain where the abscesses were rubbing against my ribs making it difficult to breathe.


The body produces antibodies to Liver fluke and these can be tested for in a blood or fecal sample. The eggs will only be excreted by an adult fluke.

It can take up to 12 weeks for the fluke to mature.


A friend recently had a scan done at a Rife Clinic where they test for various parasites, cancerous activity, etc by way of frequencies. I believe Quantum scans can also detect them. Hope that helps.


Was wondering what this liver fluke was. Very weird. Scary, and gross. I suffer from pinworms.


@cellmania: That's a good question. I know that liver fluke is detected in animals by the presence of eggs in their feces. I am not sure how it would be detected in humans.

I'll see if I can find some research and post it.


Interesting article. I noticed that it says in the article that most people do not have liver fluke symptoms. How is it detected?

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