Hydatid disease caused by Echinococcus granulosus


What is Hydatid Disease?

Hydatid disease is an infectious and zoonotic disease caused by the larvae of the cestode (tapeworm) Echinococcus granulosus. The disease is characterized by the presence of a hydatid cyst in the human tissues or organs, with potential to cause damage or even death if left untreated.

Humans become infected by accidental ingestion of the eggs of the E. Granulosus present in the environment, normally through contact with feces contaminated with dog and sheep faeces.The E. granulosus tapeworm is found mainly in dogs and sheep, where its life cycle is completed, and can also be found in other herbivores such as cats, pigs, horses, wild herbivores, etc.

Hydatid Disease Symptoms

Since this is a parasitic infection, the symptoms vary depending on where the cyst is located in the body. If the cyst is in an organ such as the liver or lungs, it can cause serious damage and even block the normal functioning of these organs. Common symptoms that you may notice in the early stages are:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Pain in the area affected by the cyst
  • Abdominal enlargement
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Jaundice (in case of liver infection)

Diagnosis and Treatment of Hydatid Disease

This disease is diagnosed through imaging studies with ultrasound or CT scan. In some cases, if the cyst ruptures, it can be diagnosed through a blood test to detect antigens of the E. granulosus virus. Treatment consists of surgical removal of the cyst, with the use of anthelmintic drugs to prevent recurrence.

It is recommended to take preventive measures not to be exposed to harmful eggs by avoiding contact with the feces of dogs and sheep, washing and properly cooking vegetables, cleaning the hands and kitchen utensils, and instructing family members to also follow these habits.