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Old Thursday, April 30, 2009
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Default Importance of Trematodes

Significance to humans
Trematodes pose a significant health threat to humans, particularly those living in developing countries. A common illness in developing countries is schistosomiasis. This condition, caused by three species of Schistosoma, affects more than 40 million individuals who live in tropical and subtropical countries, causing weakness, diarrhea, hemorrhage, fever, enlargement of the spleen, and other severe symptoms.
Other trematodes also infect humans, including the trematode Opisthorchis, which is transmitted to humans through eating infected fishes. Prevalent in parts of Russia, the fluke currently infects 1.2 million people, which is more than 4 percent of the region's population.
The cost for treatment of human fluke infections ranges into billions of dollars, in part because these conditions are frequently misdiagnosed. Treatment for infection by such organisms as Paragonimus species costs about $1, but the patient's illness is often misinterpreted as tuberculosis, which calls for years of expensive treatment.
Trematodes that infect such household pets as rabbits, dogs, and cats may cause gastrointestinal symptoms requiring veterinary treatment. In the case of dogs, the trematode Nanophyetus salmincola or so-called salmon-poisoning fluke, may cause a fatal disease resembling distemper because it carries a rickettsia (a type of bacterium) to which dogs are susceptible. The rickettsia, however, does not produce clinical disease in either humans or cats.
Trematodes can also infect livestock, sport and commercial fishes, and game mammals, which can have negative economic impacts on agriculture, sport fishing, and commercial fishing.
Human infections are most common in the Orient, Africa, South America, or the Middle East. However, trematodes can be found anywhere that human waste is used as fertilizer.

Trematodes are commonly referred to as flukes. This term can be traced back to the Saxonname for Flounder, and refers to the flattened, rhomboidal shape of the worms.
There are no known cases of human infection with Aspidogastreans, therefore the use of the term "fluke" in relation to human infection refers solely to digenean infections.
The flukes can be classified into two groups, on the basis of the system which they infect. Tissue flukes, are species which infect the bile ducts, lungs, or other biological tissues. This group includes the lung fluke, Paragonimus westermani, and the liver flukes, Clonorchis sinensis and Fasciola hepatica. The other group are known as blood flukes, and inhabit the bloodin some stages of their life cycle.
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