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Paragonimus is in the genus of flatworms, or platyhelminths, which includes Paragonimus westermani, an infectious lung fluke endemic to Asia causing a human disease called paragonimiasis. The first intermediate hosts of Paragonnimus includes at least 54 species of freshwater snails from superfamilies Cerithioidea and Rissooidea. World wide, approximately nine species of Paragonimus are known to cause paragonimiasis in which many of the species reside in East Asia, West Africa, and in North and South America.

MORPHOLOGY

Species of the Paragonimus vary in size in the adult stage with a length up to 15 mm and a width up to 8 mm. The adult flatworm has an oval shape body with spines covering its thick tegument. Both the oral sucker and acetabulum are round and muscular where the acetabulum is slightly bigger than the oral sucker .19mm and .12mm respectively. Ovaries are located behind the acetabulum and posterior to the ovary are the testes. Between the acetabulum and the ovary are the uterus, seminal receptacle, and metraterm.

LIFE CYCLE

The parasite uses two intermediate hosts, an aquatic snail and a crustacean in order to get into its mammalian definitive host which includes dogs, cats, and humans. Contracting paragonimiasis occurs usually when humans ingest freshwater crustaceans, such as crabs or crayfish, that are undercooked and contain metacercariae. Once ingested and in the intestine, the parasite will move into the abdomen and into the lungs. In the lung, the parasites transform into a cyst where they will cross fertilize with one another. The cyst will rupture in the lungs where they can be either be coughed up or swallowed and excreted in the feces. Eggs landing in the freshwater will hatch into a ciliated miracidum infecting their first intermediate host usually an aquatic snail. A crustacean may also become infected by eating the infected snail. The cycle starts again when the definitive host ingests the infected crustacean.

SYMPTOMS

Some symptoms of paragonimiasis include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, and hives. These symptoms can last for months and sometimes even up to 20 years. Paragonimiasis is caused by the bodys natural immune response to the worms and eggs that are present and also migrating from the intestines to the lungs. On average, it takes about eight weeks for the parasites to begin making eggs in the lungs and three weeks after ingestion to obtain the symptoms. In some cases, patients will develop cerebral paragonimaisis where eggs are produced in the brain causing headache, vomiting, and seizures. If untreated, death occurs due to the increase intracrainal pressure.

PREVENTION

Cooking thoroughly the crustacean kills the parasite. Crab meat should not be eaten raw and pickled crab increase the chance of contracting the infection since the solution may not kill the parasite. Utensils and cutlery boards should be cleaned thoroughly prior to food preparation.

For more information view the source:Wikipedia

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