Echinococcosis is a parasitic infection primarily caused by Echinococcus granulosus, Echinococcus multilocularis, Echinococcus vogeli tapeworms that affect both mammals (dogs, cats, horses, sheep, foxes, coyotes, rodents) and humans. Echinococcosis is a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD)*.
* Neglected Tropical Diseases are chronic infections that are typically endemic in low income countries. They prevent affected adults and children from going to school, working, or fully participating in community life, contributing to stigma and the cycle of poverty.
Echinococcus tapeworms are found worldwide, but the infection is endemic in Central America, South America, and some areas of North America and Asia. Travellers can become ill after coming into close contact with infected animals or their stools, as well as incidentally ingesting eggs found in contaminated water and undercooked food. Hikers, trekkers, hunters and livestock handlers are at greater risk. Echinococcosis also poses a risk to farmers and veterinarians.
Echinococcosis is characterized by cysts growing at different rates forming in the liver, lungs, and other organs such as the spleen, abdomen, heart.
Treatment can include surgery, the PAIR technique involving the puncture, aspiration, injection, reaspiration of the cyst, or a course of anthelmintic drugs.
There is no preventive medication or vaccine against Echinococcosis.
Information last updated: January 2020