Flukes, or flatworms, have a complex life cycle with many stages. Although sheep, cattle, pigs and humans can be “natural” hosts to the adult stage, the other stages are meant to develop outdoors and in secondary hosts. When fluke stages other than the adult are able to develop in us, I call it fluke disease.
Or, when an adult that “normally belongs” to another species is able to develop in us, I also call that fluke disease. Or even with adult flukes in their “normal” host, when they move from the organ that they “normally” colonize to other organs in the body I call this fluke disease, too.
Four fluke varieties engaged in this extra territorial pursuit are the intestinal fluke, sheep liver fluke, pancreatic fluke, and human liver fluke.
As you can see from their names, scientists have studied them well, and know exactly which animals are the “normal” hosts, and which organ in that animal is the adult fluke's “normal” home. Fluke disease is when any of these is “wrong.”
Flukes don't have eyes to see with or legs to walk with, so how can they find and travel to the organ they want in the middle of your body? Scientists do not know for sure. However it's concluded from many scientific studies that the liver fluke, Fas¬ciola, for example, has no trouble seeking out and colonizing the liver.
Here are some examples of what can happen when flukes go “wrong:”
• Adult flukes (any of the four mentioned) in the uterine wall causes cramping and bleeding when it is not menstrual period time. If an adult crosses the wall to the inside and then manages to get out through the fallopian tubes to the abdominal cavity it takes some endometrium with it— causing endometriosis.
If adults develop in the kidneys, it can cause lupus or Hodgkin's disease.
If adults complete their cycle in the brain, Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis result.
If the intestinal fluke (Fasciolopsis buskii) becomes adult in the liver it causes cancers of many (hundreds) kinds.
If the pancreatic fluke completes its cycle in the pancreas it leads to diabetes. This is not an example of flukes straying into the wrong organs, but of having its stages reproducing where they never could before.
If flukes develop in the thymus, immunity is lowered. If it happens to be the intestinal fluke, HIV (Human Immu¬nodeficiency Virus) is released there. In turn, HIV invades other tissues, like penis and vagina.
These four flukes can also invade the muscles, causing dystrophies.
As dissimilar as we always thought these diseases to be, it's obvious to me that they are but one disease—fluke disease
Considering the size of these flukes (adults are easily visi¬ble), it is not surprising that they can quickly lay waste a human's organs. Yet a human is big and makes a valiant effort to kill the stages, block access to tissues and otherwise battle them.
But only the human's intelligence can be counted on to defeat them. The intelligent approach is to discover what enables these mighty monsters to do their reproducing in our bodies instead of the pond with its snail/minnow secondary hosts.