Opisthorchis felineus

Opisthorchis felineus, or cat liver fluke is a trematode parasite that infects the liver in mammals. It was first discovered in 1884 in a cat's liver by Sebastiano Rivolta of Italy. In 1891, Russian parasitologist, Konstantin Nikolaevich Vinogradov (18471906)[2] found it in a human, and named the parasite a "Siberian liver fluke". In the 1930s, helminthologist Hans Vogel of Hamburg published an article describing the life cycle of Opisthorchis felineus.[3]

Opisthorchis felineus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Platyhelminthes
Class: Rhabditophora
Order: Plagiorchiida
Family: Opisthorchiidae
Genus: Opisthorchis
O. felineus
Binomial name
Opisthorchis felineus
(Rivolta, 1884) Blanchard, 1895[1]


Distribution of Opisthorchis felineus include: Spain, Italy, Albania, Greece, France, Macedonia, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Russia, Turkey, and Caucasus.[4]

Life cycle

The first intermediate hosts of the parasite are freshwater snails:

The second intermediate hosts are freshwater fish: Leuciscus idus, Tinca tinca, Abramis brama, white-eye bream Ballerus sapa, Barbus barbus, common carp Cyprinus carpio, Blicca bjoerkna, Leuciscus idus, Alburnus alburnus, Aspius aspius, and common rudd Scardinius erythropthalmus.[4]

The definitive hosts are fish-eating mammals such as dogs, foxes, cats, rats, pigs, rabbits, seals, lions, wolverines, martens, polecats and humans.[4]

Effect on human health

It is estimated that 1.5 million people in Russia are infected with the parasite. Inhabitants of Siberia acquire the infection by consuming raw, slightly salted and frozen fish.

Opisthorchiasis, the disease caused by Opisthorchis felineus, ranges in severity from asymptomatic infection to severe illness. Patient outcome is dependent on early detection and treatment.

Human cases of opisthorchiasis may affect the liver, pancreas, and gall bladder. If not treated in the early stages, opisthorchiasis may cause cirrhosis of the liver and increased risk of liver cancer, but may be asymptomatic in children.

Two weeks after flukes enter the body, the parasites infect the biliary tract. Symptoms of infection include fever, general felling of tiredness, skin rash, and gastrointestinal disturbances. Severe anemia and liver damage may also incapacitate the infected person for 1–2 months. Treatment of opisthorchiasis is generally with a single dose of praziquantel.

See also


  1. Blanchard, R. (1895). Séance du 26 Novembre 1895. Bulletin de la Société zoologique de France 20: 217. Text on biodiversitylibrary.org.
  2. Ageev, A. K. (1972). "Konstantin Nikolaevich Vinogradov (on the 125th anniversary of his birth)". Arkhiv Patologii. 34 (10): 85–9. PMID 4573523.
  3. Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine
  4. Chai, Jong-Yil; Darwin Murrell, K.; Lymbery, Alan J. (2005). "Fish-borne parasitic zoonoses: Status and issues". International Journal for Parasitology. 35 (11–12): 1233–54. doi:10.1016/j.ijpara.2005.07.013. PMID 16143336.
  5. World Health Organization (1995). Control of Foodborne Trematode Infection. WHO Technical Report Series. 849. PDF part 1, PDF part 2. page 125-126.
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