Korean J Parasitol.  2001 Jun;39(2):85-118. 10.3347/kjp.2001.39.2.85.

A review of Gymnophalloides seoi (Digenea: Gymnophallidae) and human infections in the Republic of Korea

  • 1Department of Parasitology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, and Institute of Endemic Diseases, Seoul National University Medical Research Center, Seoul 110-799, Korea.


Studies on Gymnophalloides seoi (Digenea: Gymnophallidae) and human infections are briefly reviewed. This minute intestinal fluke was first discovered from a Korean woman suffering from acute pancreatitis and gastrointestinal troubles. It was described as a new species by Lee, Chai and Hong in 1993. The southwestern coastal village where the patient resided was found to be a highly endemic area, and additional endemic areas have been identified. The parasite is very small, 0.33-0.50 mm long and 0.23-0.33 mm wide, and characterized by the presence of a ventral pit. The first intermediate host remains unknown, but the second intermediate host has been found to be the oyster Crassostrea gigas. Man and the Palearctic oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus have been shown to be natural definitive hosts, and wading birds including the Kentish plover Charadrius alexandrinus are highly susceptible to experimental infection. Gerbils, hamsters, cats, and several strains of mice were also susceptible laboratory hosts. In experimentally infected mice, the parasites inhabit the small intestine, pinching and sucking the root of villi with their large oral suckers, but they did not invade beyond the mucosa in immunocompetent mice. However, they were found to invade the submucosa in immunosuppressed mice. Human G. seoi infections have been found in at least 25 localities; 23 islands on the Yellow Sea or the South Sea, and 2 western coastal villages. The highest prevalence was found in a village on Aphaedo, Shinan-gun (49% egg positive rate); other areas showed 0.8-25.3% prevalence. Infected people complained of variable degrees of gastrointestinal troubles and indigestion. The infection can be diagnosed by recovery of eggs in the feces; however, an expert is needed to identify the eggs. Praziquantel, 10 mg/kg in single dose, is effective for treatment of human infections. Eating raw oysters in endemic areas should be avoided.

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