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Diphyllobothriasis, a parasitosis caused by the flatworm Diphyllobothrium latum, is contracted by consuming raw or undercooked freshwater fish. The aim of this study was to evaluate the situation of this parasitosis during the past 20 years in Europe through the analysis of databases and search engines (Medline, Cabi Helminthological abstracts,Yahoo, Google), and through a questionnaire sent to a network of European parasitologists and to microbiological laboratories located on the shores of the large Alpine lakes. This study has shown that several dozen cases have been reported each year in Finland and Sweden, that there have been numerous cases in the French or Italian speaking areas of subalpine lakes, and that sporadic cases only have been observed in Austria, Spain, Greece, Romania, Poland and Norway. Over 30 cases have been identified on the Swiss shores of Lake Maggiore since 1990, and 70 cases on the Swiss and French shores of Lake Léman between 1993 and 2002. Eight to 12% of perch fillets from Lake Leman and 7.8 % of perch from Lake Maggiore were infested with larvae. Contamination sources include marinated fish fillets in northern Europe, 'carpaccio di persico' in northern Italy, and perch and charr consumed raw or undercooked around Lake Léman. Factors allowing the continuation of the parasitic cycle include the continued dumping of wastewater into lakes, yachtsmen who also fish, and a possible animal reservoir.


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