Patrick Sullivan

Parasites and Pestilence
Human Biology 103
Spring, 2002
D. Scott Smith, MD, MSc., DTM&H, instructor


Adult fluke of Fasciolopsis buski, which may
range in size from 20 to 75 mm by 8 to 20 mm. Image taken from
the Centers for Disease Control
+Introduction a parasitic disease that infects pigs and humans in mainland China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and across the Indian subcontinent. It is estimated that ten million cases occur annually. Those especially at risk are people who raise pigs or eat fresh water plants in the areas listed above.


The causal agent of the disease, an intestinal fluke called Fasciolopsis buski, is the largest member of class Trematoda within the phylum Platyhelminthes. Adult trematodes, or flukes, are mostly hermaphroditic parasites of vertebrates, and all exhibit complex life cycles involving intermediate hosts.

Adult Fasciolopsis buski generally live on the walls of the duodenum and jejunum in the gastrointestinal tract, but can spread throughout the intestines in severe cases of infection.


Humans and Pigs (some authors have implicated dogs and rabbits as reservoirs, but this seems to be rare if true at all).

+Incubation Period

Not known


F. buski is often referred to as giant intestinal fluke. In China, it is known as ginger worm.


It was estimated in 1947 that 10 million individuals worldwide (probably limited to Asia and the Indian subcontinent) were infected, but no current estimate is available. Infection is most heavy in Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia. Disease in humans is perpetuated by the close relationship between animal husbandry and water plant agriculture in many far eastern areas. The highest rates of infection are found in the Kwang-tung and Chekiang provinces of China.

+History of Discovery

+Clinical Presentation in Humans

+Life Cycle



+Diagnosis & Treatment

+Public Health and Prevention Strategies

Fasciolopsis buski lives on the mucosal
walls of the duodenum and jejunum of the small intestine.
Image taken from Syracuse University

+Useful Web Links

Could F. buski be the cause of AIDS?? Hmmm...

CDC information on Fasciolopsiasis

Stanford Lane Medical Library

World of Parasites

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH

What is the WHO Doing About Intestinal Parasites?

Research and Training in Tropical Diseases


Markell, Edward K., David T. John, & Wojciech A. Krotoski. Medical Parasitology, 8th ed. W.B. Saunders Co: Philadelphia, 1999.

Sun, Tsieh. The Color Atlas and Textbook of Diagnostic Parasitology. Igaku-shoin, Ltd: New York, 1988.

Katz, Michael, Dickson D. Despommier, & Robert Gwadz. Parasitic Diseases, 2nd ed. Springer-Verlag: New York. 1989.

Neva, Franklin A. & Harold W. Brown. Basic Clinical Parasitology, 6th ed. Appleton & Lange: Norwalk, Conn, 1994.

Grove, David I., History of Human Helminthology, CAB International: UK, 1990.

Yoshihara, Shinobu, Nguyen Phuoc Hung, Nguyen Huu Hung, and Chau Ba Loc. "Helminths and Helminthiosis of Pigs in the Mekong Delta Vietnam with Special Reference to Ascariosis and Fasciolopsis buski Infection". Japan Agricultural Research Quarterly. Vol. 33, No. 3 (1999).