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Echinococcosis

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  • Echinococcosis

    Echinococcosis is a parasitic disease caused by infection with tiny tapeworms of the genus Echinocococcus. Echinococcosis is classified as either cystic echinococcosis or alveolar echinococcosis. Cystic echinocccosis (CE), also known as hydatid disease, is caused by infection with the larval stage of Echinococcus granulosus, a ~2-7 millimeter long tapeworm found in dogs (definitive host) and sheep, cattle, goats, and pigs (intermediate hosts). Although most infections in humans are asymptomatic, CE causes harmful, slowly enlarging cysts in the liver, lungs, and other organs that often grow unnoticed and neglected for years. Alveolar echinococcosis (AE) disease is caused by infection with the larval stage of Echinococcus multilocularis, a ~1-4 millimeter long tapeworm found in foxes, coyotes, and dogs (definitive hosts). Small rodents are intermediate hosts for E. multilocularis. Although cases of AE in animals in endemic areas are relatively common, human cases are rare. AE poses a much greater health threat to people than CE, causing parasitic tumors that can form in the liver, lungs, brain, and other organs. If left untreated, AE can be fatal. Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is very common in the southern part of Rio Grande do Sul State where sheep and cattle raising is the most important economical activity. Prevalence in intermediate hosts is well known due to reports in slaughterhouses while human reports are of discussed value. This is due to underreporting of cases and few epidemiological studies make it difficult to assess the situation of echinococcosis in the population. Whereas cattle infection rate is more or less stable around 12% of the slaughter animals, in sheep there has been an increasing number in the last five years. Some efforts have been done to control the zoonosis but no effective results were obtained so far. Probably educational efforts to change human practices (feeding dogs with raw viscera), periodic treatment of dogs with praziquantel and joined actions with slaughterhouses could bring more attention to improve some control measures.

  • Echinococcosis

    Echinococcosis is a parasitic disease caused by infection with tiny tapeworms of the genus Echinocococcus. Echinococcosis is classified as either cystic echinococcosis or alveolar echinococcosis. Cystic echinocccosis (CE), also known as hydatid disease, is caused by infection with the larval stage of Echinococcus granulosus, a ~2-7 millimeter long tapeworm found in dogs (definitive host) and sheep, cattle, goats, and pigs (intermediate hosts). Although most infections in humans are asymptomatic, CE causes harmful, slowly enlarging cysts in the liver, lungs, and other organs that often grow unnoticed and neglected for years. Alveolar echinococcosis (AE) disease is caused by infection with the larval stage of Echinococcus multilocularis, a ~1-4 millimeter long tapeworm found in foxes, coyotes, and dogs (definitive hosts). Small rodents are intermediate hosts for E. multilocularis. Although cases of AE in animals in endemic areas are relatively common, human cases are rare. AE poses a much greater health threat to people than CE, causing parasitic tumors that can form in the liver, lungs, brain, and other organs. If left untreated, AE can be fatal. Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is very common in the southern part of Rio Grande do Sul State where sheep and cattle raising is the most important economical activity. Prevalence in intermediate hosts is well known due to reports in slaughterhouses while human reports are of discussed value. This is due to underreporting of cases and few epidemiological studies make it difficult to assess the situation of echinococcosis in the population. Whereas cattle infection rate is more or less stable around 12% of the slaughter animals, in sheep there has been an increasing number in the last five years. Some efforts have been done to control the zoonosis but no effective results were obtained so far. Probably educational efforts to change human practices (feeding dogs with raw viscera), periodic treatment of dogs with praziquantel and joined actions with slaughterhouses could bring more attention to improve some control measures.

  • Echinococcosis

    Two benzimidazolic drugs, mebendazole and albendazole, are the only anthelmintics effective against cystic echinococcosis. Albendazole and mebendazole are well tolerated but show different efficacy. Albendazole is significantly more effective than mebendazole in the treatment of liver cysts. Benzimidazole treatment alone requires prolonged administration over many weeks, with an unpredictable outcome in terms of response rates in individuals. Treatment with albendazole in E granulosus infection can result in an apparent cure in as many as 30% of patients, with a further 40-50% of patients showing objective evidence of response when observed short term. Patients who do not show obvious initial evidence of response may be found to be cured when observed over several years. Duration of therapy and doses are also important. Albendazole efficacy increases with courses of up to 3 months in the more common cyst sites. Patients once received these drugs in cycles of 4 weeks separated by 1-2 weeks without drugs. This regimen is no longer advocated given the parasitostatic activity of benzimidazoles and their safety as shown by cumulative data from several retrospective studies. Continuous treatment is preferred and has been administered for periods of up to 2 years without significant side effects. The safety profile shows that liver function abnormalities are common, although they rarely limit treatment, while occasional hematologic changes affecting white cells may be more serious. The safety data supply the rationale for monitoring patients during treatment. Overall, albendazole has been demonstrated to be a useful advance in the management of cystic echinococcosis when used as sole treatment or as an adjunct to surgery or other treatments. Praziquantel has recently been suggested, administered additionally once per week in a dose of 40 mg/kg during treatment with albendazole. However, available data are limited. Radiation therapy, A 2013 case report described a patient with sternal CE that was successfully treated with radiation therapy after multiple surgical procedures and medical treatment had failed.[28] However, a recent editorial on the subject concluded that “in light of existing data, radiotherapy cannot be advocated as an alternative to surgery in osseous echinococcosis where complete excision of the affected bone is possible, and thus potentially curative. In fact, radiotherapy has to be regarded as contraindicated in such cases.

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