Considered a secondary zoonotic disease until the mid-1990s, human fascioliasis is at present emerging or re-emerging in many countries, including increases of prevalence and intensity and geographical expansion. Research in recent years has justified the inclusion of fascioliasis in the list of important human parasitic diseases. At present, fascioliasis is a vector-borne disease presenting the widest known latitudinal, longitudinal and altitudinal distribution. Fasciola hepatica has succeeded in expanding from its European original geographical area to colonize five continents, despite theoretical restrictions related to its biology and in turn dependent upon environmental and human activities. Among the different epidemiological situations, human hypo- to hyperendemic areas, including epidemics, are noteworthy. A global analysis of the distribution of human cases shows that the expected correlation between animal and human fascioliasis only appears at a basic level. Areas presenting very high human prevalences and intensities, especially in children and females, have been recently described. In hypo- to hyperendemic areas of Central and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia, human fascioliasis presents a range of epidemiological characteristics related to a wide diversity of environments. Thus far well-known epidemiological patterns of fascioliasis may not always explain the transmission characteristics in any given area and control measures should consider the results of ecoepidemiological studies undertaken in the zones concerned.
(Accepted May 23 2005)