Basically, aquaponics refers to the relationship between water, aquatic organisms, bacteria, nutritional dynamics, and plants. Basically, these systems can grow together in water areas worldwide.  

Certainly, aquaponic growing methods have many positive benefits and outcomes. First, they are environmentally responsible.  Second, they require little or no chemical usage. Third, they require less physical space in comparison to traditional agriculture. Therefore, it is easy to see there are many benefits of this growing system.  However, there are also downsides.  For example, aquaponic parasites are one such downside. 

aquaponics human disease parasites liver fluke

One such negative aspect is the risk of parasites that can affect humans. For example, liver flukes.  Liver flukes are an uncommon, yet present danger in aquaponic agriculture.

Aquaponic Parasites: WHAT IS THE LIVER FLUKE?

liver flukes aquaponics human-disease parasites
The liver fluke is a parasitic worm.  Basically, they are parasites of the liver, bile ducts, or gallbladder. They can infect various mammals, including humans.  After infection, they move through their host through blood circulation. Finally, the infected host can become very sick.  Overall, a healthy aquaponic system needs to be free of these parasites.  

THE LIFE CYCLE OF THE LIVER FLUKE

The life cycle of the liver fluke involves many parts. First, mammals are needed as hosts.  Second, a water supply is a need for the parasite to thrive.  Third, aquatic plants must be available for the parasites to grow on.  Finally, snails must be present for the parasites to develop inside. Overall, liver flukes require two or more different hosts and have a free-living larval stage in water.

The liver fluke life cycle is complex. First, it infects the plants that are eaten by the fish. The fish eat the plants. Next, the liver fluke lays eggs inside of the fish. Finally, the eggs are released through the fish’s feces and onto the snails.

liver flukes parasites aquaponics human diseases

During its life cycle, liver fluke must develop in a particular type of small snails for 2-3 months. Next, they pass from the snail to the definitive host. So, it’s best not to add snails to aquaponic systems for algae control.  Overall, doing so can increase the risk of contracting liver flukes.  Basically, it’s recommended to always keep the water clean and free from snails.

PREVENTING LIVER FLUKES

Watercress and other plants that grow in flooded areas are commonly infected with liver flukes. In other words, any type of plant grown using aquaponics could be susceptible.
In general, aquaponic growers prevent liver flukes in their systems by avoiding any animal feces infecting the system. Furthermore, they never introduce snails.  Finally, they make sure to wash all produce thoroughly before enjoying it.
human disease parasites aquaponics liver flukes
Aquaponics Human disease parasites liver flukes
In conclusion, liver fluke infections cause serious medical and veterinary illnesses.  As a result, such infection can produce either acute or chronic disease. Additionally, it’s important to know that there are two families of liver flukes.  In short, both may cause worms in the human liver and biliary tract.  Then the obstruction can lead to liver, and gall bladder problems. Above all, anyone considering starting with aquaponics will need to use caution to ensure a healthy product safe for consumption.

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