Dicrocoelium dendriticum adults (Courtesy of Flukeman)

Lancet Liver Fluke: The Complex, Mind-Controlling Parasite

Fresh, unstained adults of Dicrocoelium dendriticum (Courtesy of Alan R Walker)Dicrocoelium dendriticum is more commonly known as the lancet liver fluke. This small and slender parasitic organism causes dicrocoeliosis, which is most commonly found in ruminants, such as cows or sheep, in Europe and the Middle East. Although the disease typically does not lead to death, dicrocoeliosis has shown to be harmful, especially since an animal’s immune response cannot protect it from reinfection (Manga-Gonzalez 2001).

Even though this trematode is proving to have detrimental to livestock all across the world, Dicrocoelium dendriticum research is very premature. Studies focusing on the transmission of this parasite are hard to come by due to the length and complexity of its life cycle (Manga-Gonzalez 2001). Little is known about this parasite, which has lead to an underestimation of the havoc dicrocoeliosis can cause.

Due to hidden or minimal symptoms, expensive medication, and high genetic variability, dicrocoeliosis in ruminants is challenging to catch early, eliminate, and protect from reinfection (Otranto and Traversa 2003). In addition, immunity does not play a role in controlling and decreasing the population size of Dicrocoelium dendriticum, which is said to last as many as six years in definitive hosts (Duchacek and Lamka 2003).