Fasciola hepatica is the common liver fluke. It is a parasitic trematode (fluke or flatworm) in the phylum Platyhelminthes.
It infects the livers of various mammals, including humans. The disease caused by the fluke is called fascioliasis. It has been classified as a neglected tropical disease.
F. hepatica is distributed worldwide, and has been known as an important parasite of sheep and cattle for hundreds of years. It causes great economic losses in sheep and cattle. Because of its size and economic importance, it has been the subject of many scientific investigations and may be the best-known of any trematode species.
Life cycle of Fasciola hepatica
inside and outside of a human or animal body
To complete its life cycle, F. hepatica needs a freshwater snail as an intermediate host, where the parasite can reproduce asexually.
Images for kids
Galba truncatula, an amphibious freshwater lymnaeid snail that serves as the main intermediate host of Fasciola hepatica in Europe
The life cycle of Fasciola hepatica
A simple diagram to show the difference between the teguments of free-living and parasitic flatworms: a. shows the syncytial epithelial tegument found in parasitic flatworms, such as F. hepatica. b. shows the multicellular, non-syncytial, epithelia, found in non-parasitic, free-living flatworms.
Image showing the location of the mouth, labelled mo, and the anterior sucker, as labelled sckr.
Diagram of the main organ systems of Fasciola hepatica throughout the progressive life stages of the fluke (1938). A - Egg; B - Miracidium; C - Sporocyst; D - Rediae, E - Immature cercaria, F - Cercaria, G - Encysted stage, H - Adult fluke (nervous and reproductive systems omitted)
Fasciola hepatica prevalence. The countries in red are those with high prevalence, those in orange have low-medium prevalence.
The left image shows the free-swimming cercariae, the flagella is clearly visible. The right-hand-side of the diagram shows the cysts attached to grass
F. hepatica egg in stool sample.