Opisthorchis felineus

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Opisthorchis felineus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Platyhelminthes
Class: Trematoda
Subclass: Digenea
Order: Plagiorchiida
Suborder: Opisthorchiata
Superfamily: Opisthorchioidea
Family: Opisthorchiidae
Genus: Opisthorchis
Species: O. felineus
Binomial name
Opisthorchis felineus
(Rivolta, 1884) Blanchard, 1895[1]

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 scientist K.N. Vinogradov 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.[2]

The first "intermediate hosts" of the parasite are freshwater snails Bithynia inflata (synonym: Codiella inflata),[3] Bithynia troschelii[3] and Bithynia leachii.[3] The second "intermediate hosts" are freshwater fish, followed by the final host, which are fish-eating mammals such as felines and humans. 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.

Life cycle of the cat liver fluke

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[edit]


  1. ^ Blanchard, R. (1895). Séance du 26 Novembre 1895. Bulletin de la Société zoologique de France 20: 217. Text on biodiversitylibrary.org.
  2. ^ [1] Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine
  3. ^ a b c 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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