Echinococcus granulosus

What is an echinococcus?

It is a flatworm whose adult is a parasite of foxes or dogs, and, more rarely, of cats. Echinococcus are not very dangerous for our little companions, but their larval form can cause a serious disease in humans, echinococcosis.
There are 2 species of echinococcus, the one we are going to talk about today is: Echinococcus granulosus.
This parasite is mostly found in the south of France and southern European countries. The adult worm is a parasite of the dog’s intestine. Its eggs are passed in dog feces and can be swallowed by herbivores when they are on the grass. Sheep are the most commonly infected, but cows, pigs and goats can also be affected. Once the eggs are swallowed, they develop into larvae that form large cysts in the internal organs (mainly lungs and liver). Dogs recontaminate themselves by eating the raw guts of these animals. Sheepdogs, who may have access to sheep carcasses, are particularly at risk.
The parasite behaves in humans as in sheep: it can create cysts in the internal organs. Human contamination occurs through ingestion of eggs deposited by dogs on plants, or by bringing dirty hands to the mouth (handling dog feces, gardening, petting a dog with eggs on its coat).

Geographical distribution of E. multilocularis in Europe

Precautions to take

  • Do not eat wild berries and vegetables without first washing them, and preferably eat them cooked. Note: freezing at -20°C is not enough to destroy echinococcus eggs.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after gardening or petting your dog.
  • Do not handle fox corpses.
  • Do not feed dogs raw organ meats.
  • Deworm dogs exposed to the parasite every 4 to 6 weeks with a product effective against echinococcus
  • Deworm dogs that have traveled to high-risk areas during the vacations.

Echinococcal cysts in the liver and lung of a sheep.

Tous les vermifuges ne sont pas efficaces face aux échinocoques

For more information

You can visit the ESCCAP website

You can call our Veterinary Assistants and make an appointment for a consultation on 02/3802492.

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