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Liver Fluke

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The body of liver flukes is leaf-like and flattened. The body is covered with a tegument. They are hermaphrodites having complete sets of both male and female reproductive systems. They have simple digestive systems and primarily feed on blood. The anterior end is the oral sucker opening into the mouth. Inside, mouth lead to a small pharynx which is followed by an extended intestine that runs through the entire length of the body. The intestine is heavily branched and anus is absent. Instead, the intestine runs along an excretory canal that opens at the posterior end. Adult flukes produce eggs that are passed out through the excretory pore. The eggs infect different species of snails (as intermediate hosts) in which they grow into larvae. The larvae are released into the environment from where the definitive hosts (humans and other mammals) get the infection. In some species, another intermediate host is required, generally a cyprinid fish. In this case, the definitive hosts are infected from eating infected fish. Hence, they are food-borne parasites.

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