Opisthorchiasis (Liver Worms Of Dogs And Cats)

Opisthorchiasis is a parasitic infection caused by liver flukes of cats and dogs named opisthorchis felinens and opisthorchis viverrini respectively that occasionally infect humans. These parasites commonly infect the bile ducts resulting in abdominal pain and jaundice.

Where does it occur?

Opisthorchiasis felinens: Southeast Asia and Central Europe Opistborcis viverrini: Southeast Asia especially Thailand

How is it transmitted?

It is transmitted through the ingestion of raw or undercooked freshwater fish.

Is it contagious from person to person?

It is not contagious from person to person.

What is the risk for travelers?

The risk is generally low unless eating raw, pickled or undercooked freshwater fish.

How soon after exposure will one develop symptoms?

Initial symptoms usually develop within 4-8 weeks after exposure.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Symptoms are of abdominal pain, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting and jaundice when bile ducts are blocked. Chronic low grade infection results in an enlarged liver and cirrhosis. It is also a leading cause of cancer of the bile ducts (cholangiocarcinoma).

Are there any lab tests to diagnose the illness?

One can see the eggs of the parasite in feces or gastric fluid. Blood antibody tests are also available.

Is there any treatment?

Medication called Praziquantel is effective.

What preventive measures can be taken?

Avoid eating raw, pickled or undercooked freshwater fish.

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