Saturday, 2 July 2011

Liver infection unknown until now in Europe, takes hold in Spain

SPAIN (El Pais) At least 400 cases of infection by a liver-attacking parasite that was until recently unknown in Europe have been diagnosed in Spain, according to data from the new, and only, World Health Organization (WHO) center devoted to the disease, located in Valencia.The fasciola parasite, which installs itself in the liver and can cause cirrhosis, anemia and other conditions, is a big problem in poorer countries such as Bolivia, where 72 percent of the population suffer infection, but climate change is increasing its presence in the developed world. Infection, known as fasciolasis, is transmitted by eating wild vegetation infected by the fasciola parasite, a form of liver fluke. It lays its eggs in the digestive systems of sheep and cows, which then hatch after they are excreted and reach water. The larvae look for a new host, freshwater snails, from where they leave the water to attach themselves to aquatic plants. Eating this infected vegetation installs the fasciola in your liver. Previously thought of as a disease of livestock, human fasciolasis cases have shot up from 2,500 in 1990 to 17 million today, according to the WHO, which has decided to prioritize the fight against the parasite.

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