Diagram of Fasciola hepatica

Fasciola hepatica (liver fluke) is a platyhelminth (flatworm) that is bilaterally symmetrical, triploblastic and dorso-ventrally flattened. They are unsegmented and acoelomates. They are trematodes belonging to subclass digenea. Thus, they are endoparasites with two suckers without hooks.

Let’s look at the characteristic features of Fasciola hepatica with a well-labelled diagram.

Fasciola hepatica – Classification

Kingdom

Animalia

Phylum

Platyhelminthes

Class

Trematoda

Subclass

Digenea

Order

Echinostomida

Genus

Fasciola

Species

hepatica

Labelled Diagram of Fasciola hepatica

Fasciola hepatica diagram

General Characteristics

  • Fasciola hepatica is found in the bile duct of sheep’s liver as an endoparasite.
  • The body is dorso-ventrally flattened, leaf-like and measures about 25-30 mm in length and 4-5 mm in breadth.
  • The anterior end is produced into a conical projection called the cephalic cone.
  • The mouth is situated ventrally at the anterior end, and it is surrounded by oral sucker
  • A highly muscular ventral sucker or acetabulum is situated a little posterior to the oral sucker.
  • The posterior end is large and more rounded in the front than the back.
  • The digestive system comprises oesophagus, pharynx and diverticulated intestine.
  • The excretory pore is situated at the posterior extremity.
  • They are hermaphrodites, i.e, they have both female and male reproductive parts.
  • The eggs pass to the exterior through the median genital pore present between the ventral and oral suckers.

Significance

Liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) is an endoparasite that is known to cause a disease called liver rot. These endoparasites are found in the bile ducts of sheep, cattle, goats and even in a few other vertebrates. These parasites are found around water bodies like slow streaming rivers, river banks and irrigation channels, as these areas are apt for hatching eggs. It is cosmopolitan in distribution.

Their life cycle includes an intermediate host, Lymnaea (a mollusc). The infestation of these liver flukes in animals like cattle, sheep and goats greatly impacts the agriculture and livestock industry.

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