Clonorchiasis – A Parasitic Infection Of The Liver
Clonorchiasis is essentially a parasitic infection of the liver and the biliary tree. The parasite involved is known as
. It is also known as the Oriental Liver Fluke. It is transmitted by the consumption of raw, undercooked and smoked fish. As the name suggests, the said worm is of oriental origin and is mainly found in East Asia. People travelling to the Eastern countries or consuming imported fish or fish products are also susceptible to get it. The said bug is mainly responsible for the emergence of the disease, Cholangiohepatitis.It is estimated that about 20 million people are affected by clonorchiasis worldwide.
The said parasite is essentially a trematode. It essentially refers to parasitic flatworms, known as flukes. The adult flukes measure a few millimeters in length and use humans as hosts in their lifecycle. On ingestion of improperly cooked or raw fresh water fish the said parasite finds its way inside into the host. The worms reside in the small and medium sized biliary ducts.
Symptoms of Clonorchiasis
The condition can exist without any symptoms for a long time. Eventually, the following symptoms appear:
- Abdominal pain.
- Fever with chills.
- Hepatomegaly or enlargement of liver.
- Chronic cholangitis (an infection in the bile duct which is a tube that carries bile from the liver to the gallbladder and the small intestine).
- Hyperplasia or an increase in the number of epithelial cells of the biliary duct leading to its inflammation.
- Portal hypertension ( high blood pressure in the portal vein that drains blood from the gastrointestinal tract to the liver).
- Long term damage to the liver and the pancreas.
The treatment of the infection caused by the
parasite is mainly done with the aid of antihemintic drugs like bithinol, albendazole, mebendazole, triclabendazolepraziquantel etc. It is important that detection is done immediately and treatment is started. The condition going undetected for a long time can lead to permanent liver damage. In case, an adult fluke gets lodged in the liver it becomes imperative to remove it surgically.
But most importantly, it is important to avoid eating raw and undercooked fish as in sushi to prevent the bug from entering the digestive tract.