Fasciolosis is caused by two digenetic trematodes F. hepatica and F. gigantica. Adult flukes of both species are localized in the bile ducts of the liver or gallbladder. F. hepatica measures 2 to 3 cm and has a cosmopolitan distribution. F. gigantica measures 4 to 10 cm in length and the distribution of the species is limited to the tropics and has been recorded in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and south and eastern Asia. In domestic livestock in Japan, diploid (2n = 20), triploid (3n = 30) and chimeric flukes (2n/3n) have been described, many of which reproduce parthenogenetically. As a result of this unclear classification, flukes in Japan are normally referred to as Fasciola spp. Recent reports based on mitochondrial genes analysis has shown that Japanese Fasciola spp. is more closely related to F. gigantica than to F. hepatica. In India, a species called F. jacksoni was described in elephants
Human F. hepatica infection is determined by the presence of the intermediate snail hosts, domestic herbivorous animals, climatic conditions and the dietary habits of man. Sheep, goats and cattle are considered the predominant animal reservoirs. While other animals can be infected, they are usually not very important for human disease transmission. On the other hand, some authors have observed that donkeys and pigs contribute to disease transmission in Bolivia. Among wild animals, it has been demonstrated that the peridomestic rat (Rattus rattus) may play an important role in the spread as well as in the transmission of the parasite in Corsica. In France, nutria (Myocastor coypus) was confirmed as a wild reservoir host of F. hepatica.Humans are infected by ingestion of aquatic plants that contain the infectious cercariae. Several species of aquatic vegetables are known as a vehicle of human infection. In Europe, Nasturtium officinale (common watercress), Nasturtium silvestris, Rorippa amphibia (wild watercress), Taraxacum dens leonis (dandelion leaves), Valerianella olitoria (lamb’s lettuce), and Mentha viridis (spearmint) were reported as a source of human infections. In the Northern Bolivian Altiplano, some authors suggested that several aquatic plants such as bero-bero (watercress), algas (algae), kjosco and tortora could act as a source of infection for humans Because F. hepatica cercariae also encyst on water surface, humans can be infected by drinking of fresh untreated water containing cercariae. In addition, an experimental study suggested that humans consuming raw liver dishes from fresh livers infected with juvenile flukes could become infected.
Galba truncatula - the most common intermediate host of F. hepatica in Europe and South America
Main articles: Fasciola hepatica § Life cycle, and Fasciola gigantica § Intermediate hosts
Intermediate hosts of F. hepatica are freshwater snails from family Lymnaeidae. Snails from family Planorbidae act as an intermediate host of F. hepatica very occasionally.