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1.  Economic Impact of Cystic Echinococcosis in Peru 
Cystic echinococcosis (CE) constitutes an important public health problem in Peru. However, no studies have attempted to estimate the monetary and non-monetary impact of CE in Peruvian society.
We used official and published sources of epidemiological and economic information to estimate direct and indirect costs associated with livestock production losses and human disease in addition to surgical CE-associated disability adjusted life years (DALYs) lost.
The total estimated cost of human CE in Peru was U.S.$2,420,348 (95% CI:1,118,384–4,812,722) per year. Total estimated livestock-associated costs due to CE ranged from U.S.$196,681 (95% CI:141,641–251,629) if only direct losses (i.e., cattle and sheep liver destruction) were taken into consideration to U.S.$3,846,754 (95% CI:2,676,181–4,911,383) if additional production losses (liver condemnation, decreased carcass weight, wool losses, decreased milk production) were accounted for. An estimated 1,139 (95% CI: 861–1,489) DALYs were also lost due to surgical cases of CE.
This preliminary and conservative assessment of the socio-economic impact of CE on Peru, which is based largely on official sources of information, very likely underestimates the true extent of the problem. Nevertheless, these estimates illustrate the negative economic impact of CE in Peru.
Author Summary
Cystic echinococcosis (CE), caused by infection with the larval stage of the cestode Echinococcus granulosus, constitutes an important public health problem in Peru. Despite its high prevalence in endemic communities no studies have attempted to estimate the economic impact of CE in Peruvian society. We used official and published sources of epidemiological and economic information to estimate direct and indirect costs associated with livestock production losses and human disease. We also used disability adjusted life years (DALYs) which is an overall measure of disease burden, expressed as number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death due to CE. We found that the total estimated cost of human CE in Peru was U.S.$2,420,348 per year. Total estimated livestock-associated costs due to CE ranged from U.S.$196,681 to U.S.$3,846,754. An estimated 1,139 DALYs were also lost due to surgical cases of CE which is comparable to DALY losses from Amebiasis or Malaria in Peru. This conservative assessment found significant economic losses caused by this CE in Peruvian society. The findings of this study are important as these data can serve to prioritize those areas that may need to be targeted in a control program.
PMCID: PMC3101191  PMID: 21629731
2.  The Monetary Burden of Cystic Echinococcosis in Iran 
Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is a globally distributed parasitic infection of humans and livestock. The disease is of significant medical and economic importance in many developing countries, including Iran. However, the socioeconomic impact of the disease, in most endemic countries, is not fully understood. The purpose of the present study was to determine the monetary burden of CE in Iran. Epidemiological data, including prevalence and incidence of CE in humans and animals, were obtained from regional hospitals, the scientific literature, and official government reports. Economic data relating to human and animal disease, including cost of treatment, productivity losses, and livestock production losses were obtained from official national and international datasets. Monte Carlo simulation methods were used to represent uncertainty in input parameters. Mean number of surgical CE cases per year for 2000–2009 was estimated at 1,295. The number of asymptomatic individuals living in the country was estimated at 635,232 (95% Credible Interval, CI 149,466–1,120,998). The overall annual cost of CE in Iran was estimated at US$232.3 million (95% CI US$103.1–397.8 million), including both direct and indirect costs. The cost associated with human CE was estimated at US$93.39 million (95% CI US$6.1–222.7 million) and the annual cost associated with CE in livestock was estimated at US$132 million (95% CI US$61.8–246.5 million). The cost per surgical human case was estimated at US$1,539. CE has a considerable economic impact on Iran, with the cost of the disease approximated at 0.03% of the country's gross domestic product. Establishment of a CE surveillance system and implementation of a control program are necessary to reduce the economic burden of CE on the country. Cost-benefit analysis of different control programs is recommended, incorporating present knowledge of the economic losses due to CE in Iran.
Author Summary
Cystic echinococcosis (CE), caused by the tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus, is a zoonotic infection that occurs worldwide. The adult parasite resides in the small intestines of dogs and the cyst form can develop in the liver and lungs of both humans and livestock. CE causes medical, veterinary, and economic losses in endemic areas. However, data on the economic consequences of CE are lacking. The present study estimated the monetary burden of CE in Iran. We used epidemiological and economic information to estimate direct and indirect costs of human and livestock CE in the country. Costs associated with human CE included the costs of surgery and hospital services in addition to lost wages due to work absenteeism during hospitalization and recovery. Costs associated with CE in livestock included losses due to condemnation of livers and lungs during carcass inspections, decreased carcass weight, reproductive losses, and reductions in milk and other animal products. We estimated the overall annual cost of CE in Iran at US$232.25 million, with the cost of the disease estimated to be approximately 0.03% of the country's gross domestic product. Implementation of a control program is necessary to reduce the economic burden of CE on Iran.
PMCID: PMC3510083  PMID: 23209857
3.  Cystic Echinococcosis in the Province of Álava, North Spain: The Monetary Burden of a Disease No Longer under Surveillance 
Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is endemic in Spain but has been considered non-endemic in the province of Álava, Northern Spain, since 1997. However, Álava is surrounded by autonomous regions with some of the highest CE prevalence proportions in the nation, casting doubts about the current classification. The purpose of this study is to estimate the frequency of CE in humans and animals and to use this data to determine the societal cost incurred due to CE in the Álava population in 2005. We have identified epidemiological and clinical data from surveillance and hospital records, prevalence data in intermediate (sheep and cattle) host species from abattoir records, and economical data from national and regional official institutions. Direct costs (diagnosis, treatment, medical care in humans and condemnation of offal in livestock species) and indirect costs (productivity losses in humans and reduction in growth, fecundity and milk production in livestock) were modelled using the Latin hypercube method under five different scenarios reflecting different assumptions regarding the prevalence of asymptomatic cases and associated productivity losses in humans. A total of 13 human CE cases were reported in 2005. The median total cost (95% credible interval) of CE in humans and animals in Álava in 2005 was estimated to range between €61,864 (95%CI%: €47,304–€76,590) and €360,466 (95%CI: €76,424–€752,469), with human-associated losses ranging from 57% to 93% of the total losses, depending on the scenario used. Our data provide evidence that CE is still very well present in Álava and incurs important cost to the province every year. We expect this information to prove valuable for public health agencies and policy-makers, as it seems advisable to reinstate appropriate surveillance and monitoring systems and to implement effective control measures that avoid the spread and recrudescence of the disease.
Author Summary
Historically, cystic echinococcosis (CE) is one of the most important zoonotic diseases in Spain. The initiation of a number of control campaigns in the second half of the 1980s has led to a substantial reduction of the number of CE infections both in humans and livestock species. As a consequence of this initial success, obligation to report human CE cases was revoked in 1997 in a number of Spanish autonomous regions that were consequently considered non-endemic for CE. This policy has not been translated to livestock species, where the identification of hydatid cysts and the reporting of prevalence data remain compulsory in all national slaughterhouses. We present here an estimation of the human and animal CE associated monetary losses in the province of Álava, North Spain, for the year 2005. Obtained economic data corroborate the epidemiological findings and demonstrate that CE has important socio-economic consequences in Álava. Taking together, our data suggest that surveillance status of CE in Álava (and very likely in other Spanish regions currently classified as non-endemic areas) should be reassessed. The situation also indicates that more accurate and effective methods for detecting and reporting the disease at the regional and national level are greatly needed.
PMCID: PMC4125306  PMID: 25102173
4.  Estimating the Global Burden of Endemic Canine Rabies 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2015;9(4):e0003709.
Rabies is a notoriously underreported and neglected disease of low-income countries. This study aims to estimate the public health and economic burden of rabies circulating in domestic dog populations, globally and on a country-by-country basis, allowing an objective assessment of how much this preventable disease costs endemic countries.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We established relationships between rabies mortality and rabies prevention and control measures, which we incorporated into a model framework. We used data derived from extensive literature searches and questionnaires on disease incidence, control interventions and preventative measures within this framework to estimate the disease burden. The burden of rabies impacts on public health sector budgets, local communities and livestock economies, with the highest risk of rabies in the poorest regions of the world. This study estimates that globally canine rabies causes approximately 59,000 (95% Confidence Intervals: 25-159,000) human deaths, over 3.7 million (95% CIs: 1.6-10.4 million) disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and 8.6 billion USD (95% CIs: 2.9-21.5 billion) economic losses annually. The largest component of the economic burden is due to premature death (55%), followed by direct costs of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP, 20%) and lost income whilst seeking PEP (15.5%), with only limited costs to the veterinary sector due to dog vaccination (1.5%), and additional costs to communities from livestock losses (6%).
This study demonstrates that investment in dog vaccination, the single most effective way of reducing the disease burden, has been inadequate and that the availability and affordability of PEP needs improving. Collaborative investments by medical and veterinary sectors could dramatically reduce the current large, and unnecessary, burden of rabies on affected communities. Improved surveillance is needed to reduce uncertainty in burden estimates and to monitor the impacts of control efforts.
Author Summary
Rabies is a fatal viral disease largely transmitted to humans from bites by infected animals—predominantly from domestic dogs. The disease is entirely preventable through prompt administration of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to bite victims and can be controlled through mass vaccination of domestic dogs. Yet, rabies is still very prevalent in developing countries, affecting populations with limited access to health care. The disease is also grossly underreported in these areas because most victims die at home. This leads to insufficient prioritization of rabies prevention in public health agendas. To address this lack of information on the impacts of rabies, in this study, we compiled available data to provide a robust estimate of the health and economic implications of dog rabies globally. The most important impacts included: loss of human lives (approximately 59,000 annually) and productivity due to premature death from rabies, and costs of obtaining PEP once an exposure has occurred. The greatest risk of developing rabies fell upon the poorest regions of the world, where domestic dog vaccination is not widely implemented and access to PEP is most limited. A greater focus on mass dog vaccination could eliminate the disease at source, reducing the need for costly PEP and preventing the large and unnecessary burden of mortality on at-risk communities.
PMCID: PMC4400070  PMID: 25881058
5.  The Burden of Parasitic Zoonoses in Nepal: A Systematic Review 
Parasitic zoonoses (PZs) pose a significant but often neglected threat to public health, especially in developing countries. In order to obtain a better understanding of their health impact, summary measures of population health may be calculated, such as the Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY). However, the data required to calculate such measures are often not readily available for these diseases, which may lead to a vicious circle of under-recognition and under-funding.
We examined the burden of PZs in Nepal through a systematic review of online and offline data sources. PZs were classified qualitatively according to endemicity, and where possible a quantitative burden assessment was conducted in terms of the annual number of incident cases, deaths and DALYs.
Principal Findings
Between 2000 and 2012, the highest annual burden was imposed by neurocysticercosis and congenital toxoplasmosis (14,268 DALYs [95% Credibility Interval (CrI): 5450–27,694] and 9255 DALYs [95% CrI: 6135–13,292], respectively), followed by cystic echinococcosis (251 DALYs [95% CrI: 105–458]). Nepal is probably endemic for trichinellosis, toxocarosis, diphyllobothriosis, foodborne trematodosis, taeniosis, and zoonotic intestinal helminthic and protozoal infections, but insufficient data were available to quantify their health impact. Sporadic cases of alveolar echinococcosis, angiostrongylosis, capillariosis, dirofilariosis, gnathostomosis, sparganosis and cutaneous leishmaniosis may occur.
In settings with limited surveillance capacity, it is possible to quantify the health impact of PZs and other neglected diseases, thereby interrupting the vicious circle of neglect. In Nepal, we found that several PZs are endemic and are imposing a significant burden to public health, higher than that of malaria, and comparable to that of HIV/AIDS. However, several critical data gaps remain. Enhanced surveillance for the endemic PZs identified in this study would enable additional burden estimates, and a more complete picture of the impact of these diseases.
Author Summary
Various parasites that infect humans require animals in some stage of their life cycle. Infection with these so-called zoonotic parasites may vary from asymptomatic carriership to long-term morbidity and even death. Although data are still scarce, it is clear that parasitic zoonoses (PZs) present a significant burden for public health, particularly in poor and marginalized communities. So far, however, there has been relatively little attention to this group of diseases, causing various PZs to be labeled neglected tropical diseases. In this study, the authors reviewed a large variety of data sources to study the relevance and importance of PZs in Nepal. It was found that a large number of PZs are present in Nepal and are imposing an impact higher than that of malaria and comparable to that of HIV/AIDS. These results therefore suggest that PZs deserve greater attention and more intensive surveillance. Furthermore, this study has shown that even in settings with limited surveillance capacity, it is possible to quantify the impact of neglected diseases and, consequently, to break the vicious circle of neglect.
PMCID: PMC3879239  PMID: 24392178
6.  The Disease Burden of Taenia solium Cysticercosis in Cameroon 
Taenia solium cysticercosis is an important zoonosis in many developing countries. Human neurocysticercosis is recognised as an important cause of epilepsy in regions where the parasite occurs. However, it is largely underreported and there is a lack of data about the disease burden. Because a body of information on human and porcine cysticercosis in Cameroon is becoming available, the present study was undertaken to calculate the impact of this neglected zoonosis.
Both the cost and Disability Adjusted Life Year (DALY) estimations were applied. All necessary parameters were collected and imported in R software. Different distributions were used according to the type of information available for each of the parameters.
Based on a prevalence of epilepsy of 3.6%, the number of people with neurocysticercosis-associated epilepsy was estimated at 50,326 (95% CR 37,299–65,924), representing 1.0% of the local population, whereas the number of pigs diagnosed with cysticercosis was estimated at 15,961 (95% CR 12,320–20,044), which corresponds to 5.6% of the local pig population. The total annual costs due to T. solium cysticercosis in West Cameroon were estimated at 10,255,202 Euro (95% CR 6,889,048–14,754,044), of which 4.7% were due to losses in pig husbandry and 95.3% to direct and indirect losses caused by human cysticercosis. The monetary burden per case of cysticercosis amounts to 194 Euro (95% CR 147–253). The average number of DALYs lost was 9.0 per thousand persons per year (95% CR 2.8–20.4).
This study provides an estimation of the costs due to T. solium cysticercosis using country-specific parameters and including the human as well as the animal burden of the zoonotic disease. A comparison with a study in South Africa indicates that the cost of inactivity, influenced by salaries, plays a predominant role in the monetary burden of T. solium cysticercosis. Therefore, knowing the salary levels and the prevalence of the disease might allow a rapid indication of the total cost of T. solium cysticercosis in a country. Ascertaining this finding with additional studies in cysticercosis-endemic countries could eventually allow the estimation of the global disease burden of cysticercosis. The estimated number of DALYs lost due to the disease was higher than estimates already available for some other neglected tropical diseases. The total estimated cost and number of DALYs lost probably underestimate the real values because the estimations have been based on epilepsy as the only symptom of cysticercosis.
Author Summary
Taenia solium cysticercosis is a zoonotic disease occurring in many developing countries. A relatively high prevalence in humans and pigs has been reported in several parts of the world, but insufficient data are available on the disease burden. Disease impact assessment needs detailed information on well-defined epidemiological and economic parameters. Our work conducted in West Cameroon over several years allowed us to collect the necessary information to estimate the impact of the parasite on the human and animal populations in this area using both cost and Disability Adjusted Life Year (DALY) estimations. This study identified the professional inactivity caused by the disease as the major loss factor in comparison to the cost of health care and losses due to infected pigs. These findings should allow a simpler estimation of the global disease burden based on information on salary levels and human cysticercosis prevalence in endemic areas of the world. In addition, the number of DALYs lost was higher than estimates already available for some other neglected tropical diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.
PMCID: PMC2656639  PMID: 19333365
7.  Characterizing the Epidemiological Transition in Mexico: National and Subnational Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(6):e125.
Rates of diseases and injuries and the effects of their risk factors can have substantial subnational heterogeneity, especially in middle-income countries like Mexico. Subnational analysis of the burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors can improve characterization of the epidemiological transition and identify policy priorities.
Methods and Findings
We estimated deaths and loss of healthy life years (measured in disability-adjusted life years [DALYs]) in 2004 from a comprehensive list of diseases and injuries, and 16 major risk factors, by sex and age for Mexico and its states. Data sources included the vital statistics, national censuses, health examination surveys, and published epidemiological studies. Mortality statistics were adjusted for underreporting, misreporting of age at death, and for misclassification and incomparability of cause-of-death assignment. Nationally, noncommunicable diseases caused 75% of total deaths and 68% of total DALYs, with another 14% of deaths and 18% of DALYs caused by undernutrition and communicable, maternal, and perinatal diseases. The leading causes of death were ischemic heart disease, diabetes mellitus, cerebrovascular disease, liver cirrhosis, and road traffic injuries. High body mass index, high blood glucose, and alcohol use were the leading risk factors for disease burden, causing 5.1%, 5.0%, and 7.3% of total burden of disease, respectively. Mexico City had the lowest mortality rates (4.2 per 1,000) and the Southern region the highest (5.0 per 1,000); under-five mortality in the Southern region was nearly twice that of Mexico City. In the Southern region undernutrition and communicable, maternal, and perinatal diseases caused 23% of DALYs; in Chiapas, they caused 29% of DALYs. At the same time, the absolute rates of noncommunicable disease and injury burdens were highest in the Southern region (105 DALYs per 1,000 population versus 97 nationally for noncommunicable diseases; 22 versus 19 for injuries).
Mexico is at an advanced stage in the epidemiologic transition, with the majority of the disease and injury burden from noncommunicable diseases. A unique characteristic of the epidemiological transition in Mexico is that overweight and obesity, high blood glucose, and alcohol use are responsible for larger burden of disease than other noncommunicable disease risks such as tobacco smoking. The Southern region is least advanced in the epidemiological transition and suffers from the largest burden of ill health in all disease and injury groups.
Gretchen Stevens and colleagues estimate deaths and loss of healthy life years (measured in disability-adjusted life years, DALYs) for Mexico as a whole and its 32 states.
Editors' Summary
The impact that a particular disease has upon a population is known as the “burden of disease.” This burden is estimated by considering how many deaths the disease causes and how much it disables those still living. The relative contributions of different diseases and injuries to the loss of healthy life from death and disability vary greatly among countries. Broadly speaking, in low-income countries (such as many African countries), infectious diseases and undernutrition are the major causes of ill health and death whereas in high-income countries (for example, the United States), noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke are more important. As poor countries become richer, they experience a change in the pattern of disease away from infectious diseases and malnutrition and toward noncommunicable diseases. Health experts call this change the “epidemiological transition” (epidemiology is the study of the distribution and causes of diseases in populations). Governments need to know as much as possible about which diseases have the greatest burden—and about where the country is in the epidemiological transition—to help them implement effective health policies. For example, there is no point in setting up treatment centers for a specific infectious disease in a country where the disease no longer occurs. Equally importantly, governments need to know which lifestyle choices and other genetic and environmental factors affect the chances of people in their country developing specific diseases so that they can provide relevant educational and intervention programs.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most analyses of the burden of disease have been done at the national and global scale. However, in middle-income countries, different regions of the country may be at different stages of the epidemiological transition and may, therefore, have very different patterns of disease. In this study, the researchers investigate whether this is the case for Mexico, a middle-income country that has developed rapidly over the past few decades. Mexico recently reformed its health system to improve access to health care for the poor and underserved. Under this new system, individual states play an important role in allocating health-care resources (as they do in many other countries) so it is very important to know how the burden of disease varies in different states of the country.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers estimated deaths and loss of healthy life years caused by various diseases and injuries for Mexico and its states using data from death registers, censuses, health examination surveys, and epidemiological studies. Loss of healthy life years was measured using a metric called “disability-adjusted life years” (DALYs)—one DALY is equivalent to the loss of one year of healthy life because of premature death or disability. They also identified the major risk factors for these diseases and injuries across the country. Nationally, noncommunicable diseases (particularly heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and liver cirrhosis) caused 75% of deaths and 68% of DALYs. Undernutrition, infectious diseases, and problems occurring in mothers and infants around the time of birth (maternal and perinatal diseases) caused 14% of deaths and 18% of DALYs. The leading risk factors for disease in Mexico were being overweight, having high blood glucose, and alcohol use. When the researchers studied different regions of the country, they found that Mexico City had the lowest death rate whereas the relatively undeveloped Southern region of Mexico had the highest, particularly among young children. In Chiapas, the most southerly state of Mexico, undernutrition and infectious, maternal, and perinatal diseases caused nearly a third of DALYs. In addition to the highest infectious disease burden, the Southern region also had the highest noncommunicable disease and injury burden per head of population.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that Mexico as a nation is at an advanced stage of the epidemiological transition. In other words, because of the improvement in its economic status, the burden of disease caused by infectious diseases and undernutrition has decreased, and noncommunicable diseases now cause the largest share of the total burden of disease. However, the study also shows that the poorest regions of the country, which have the highest overall burden of disease, are lagging behind the richer regions in terms of their position in the epidemiological transition. Thus different health priorities need to be set in different regions of Mexico (and in other middle-income countries where the burden of disease is also likely to vary with region). Finally, the information provided by this study about the forces driving the epidemiological transition in Mexico, such as the importance of obesity and alcohol use, should help public-health officials decide how to improve the overall health of the Mexican population.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
A related PLoS Medicine Perspective by Martin Tobias further discusses this research
The World Health Organization provides information on the Global Burden of Disease Project including links to other burden of disease resources. It also provides detailed information on various aspects of health in Mexico (in several languages), and an explanation of DALYs
Read a detailed article on the “epidemiological transition” by Abdel Omran, who proposed this idea in 1971
A large amount of Mexican data is available online for Spanish speakers. Complete raw mortality statistics can be found on the Mexican Ministry of Health's Web site Also online is the complete report of the ENSANUT survey (Encuesta Nacional de Salud y Nutrición 2006), which was one of the major data sources used to determine risk factor exposure
PMCID: PMC2429945  PMID: 18563960
8.  Echinococcus granulosus Infection and Options for Control of Cystic Echinococcosis in Tibetan Communities of Western Sichuan Province, China 
Human cystic echinococcosis (CE) is highly endemic in the Tibetan regions of Sichuan where most families keep guard dogs and where there are considerable numbers of ownerless/stray dogs. Strong Buddhist beliefs do not allow for elimination of stray dogs, and many strays are actually fed and adopted by households or monasteries. On account of the high altitude (3900–5000 m), pasturage is the major agricultural activity in this area. The harsh mountainous climate often leads to many grazing animals dying on the pasture at the end of a hard winter. The skin and some meat are taken, and the rest of the animal is left for scavenging birds and animals. The poor sanitation and hygiene, the Buddhist doctrine of allowing old livestock to die naturally, plus the unrestricted disposal of animal viscera post-slaughter may be responsible for the high prevalence of human CE in this setting.
Methods and Findings
As part of a large collaborative control program for CE in Ganzi County, situated in the west of Sichuan Province, surveillance for Echinococcus infection in domestic dogs using a coproantigen method and necropsy of unwanted dogs was carried out prior to (in 2000) and after (in 2005) dog anthelminthic treatment (5 mg/kg oral praziquantal at 6 month intervals) to determine the efficacy of the treatment for control. The prevalence of E. granulosus only in dogs by necropsy was 27% and 22%, and prevalence of both Echinococcus spp. by necropsy was 63% and 38%; prevalence of both Echinococcus spp. by coproantigen analysis was 50% and 17%. Necropsy of sheep/goats (age <1 to 12 years) (prevalence of E. granulosus in 1–6-year-old animals was 38% and in 10–12-year-old animals was 70%) and yaks (age 4 years) (prevalence of E. granulosus was 38%) was undertaken to determine the baseline transmission pressure. Protoscoleces were only found in very old sheep/goats and yaks. Necropsy of dogs in the Datangma district indicated that there was no apparent significant change in the overall prevalence of E. granulosus in unwanted dogs after 5 years of 6-month praziquantel treatment. However, this was likely due to the number of dogs available for necropsy being too small to reflect the real situation prevailing. There was a highly significant decrease in Echinococcus prevalence after the 5-year treatment program shown by coproantigen-ELISA. This indicated a decreasing but continuing risk for re-infection of domestic and stray dogs. Genotyping of E. granulosus samples obtained from necropsied sheep/goats and yaks and from locally infected humans at surgery was carried out to determine the strain of parasite responsible for human infection. DNA genotyping indicated that only the sheep strain (G1) of E. granulosus was present in the study area.
Considerable re-infection rates of E. granulosus among dogs indicated a high infection pressure from infected livestock in this region, most likely from older animals dying on the pasture. A combination of livestock vaccination with the Eg95 vaccine, which is effective against the sheep strain of E. granulosus, and dog anthelmintic treatment, thus targeting two critical points of the parasite life-cycle, would avoid the conflicts of religion or local culture and could achieve the goal of hydatid control in the long term.
Author Summary
Human cystic echinococcosis (CE) is highly endemic in Tibetan regions of Sichuan. As part of a control program for CE in Datangma district, Ganzi County, necropsy of strays and coproantigen-ELISA of all dogs was carried out prior to and post-drug treatment to determine the efficacy of the treatment for control. Examination of sheep/goats and yaks was undertaken to determine the baseline transmission pressure to dogs. The necropsy results indicated no apparent significant change in the overall prevalence of E. granulosus in unwanted dogs after 5 years of 6-month treatment. In contrast, there was a highly significant decrease in Echinococcus prevalence in domestic/stray dogs after the 5-year treatment program shown by coproantigen-ELISA. This indicated a decreasing but continuing risk for re-infection of dogs resulting from high infection pressure from the numerous infected domestic animals. DNA genotyping indicated the presence only of the sheep strain (G1) of E. granulosus in the study area. A combination of livestock vaccination with the highly effective Eg95 vaccine and dog drug treatment, targeting two critical points of the parasite life-cycle, would avoid the conflicts of religion or local culture and achieve the goal of hydatid control in the long term in the area.
PMCID: PMC2668793  PMID: 19399162
9.  Human and Canine Echinococcosis Infection in Informal, Unlicensed Abattoirs in Lima, Peru 
Echinococcus granulosus infections are a major public health problem in livestock-raising regions around the world. The life cycle of this tapeworm is sustained between dogs (definitive host, canine echinococcosis), and herbivores (intermediary host, cystic hydatid disease). Humans may also develop cystic hydatid disease. Echinococcosis is endemic in rural areas of Peru; nevertheless, its presence or the extension of the problem in urban areas is basically unknown. Migration into Lima, an 8-million habitant's metropolis, creates peripheral areas where animals brought from endemic areas are slaughtered without veterinary supervision. We identified eight informal, unlicensed abattoirs in a peripheral district of Lima and performed a cross-sectional study in to assess the prevalence of canine echinococcosis, evaluated by coproELISA followed by PCR evaluation and arecoline purge. Eight of 22 dogs (36%) were positive to coproELISA, and four (18%) were confirmed to be infected with E. granulosus tapeworms either by PCR or direct observation (purge). Later evaluation of the human population living in these abattoirs using abdominal ultrasound, chest X-rays and serology, found 3 out of 32 (9.3%) subjects with echinococcal cysts in the liver (two viable, one calcified), one of whom had also lung involvement and a strongly positive antibody response. Autochthonous transmission of E. granulosus is present in Lima. Informal, unlicensed abattoirs may be sources of infection to neighbouring people in this urban environment.
Author Summary
Echinococcus granulosus infections are a major public health problem in livestock-raising regions around the world. This parasite is transmitted by dogs, and humans could be accidentally infected, developing cystic lesions in internal organs after several years of infection. The risk of infection has been widely described in Peruvian rural areas; nevertheless the extension of the problem in urban areas is basically unknown. Migration into Lima, an 8-million habitant's metropolis, creates peripheral areas where animals brought from endemic areas are slaughtered without veterinary supervision. In our study, we assess the number of infected dogs, which were living in eight informal, unlicensed abattoirs in a peripheral district of Lima, by evaluation of dog faeces using different techniques. We identified that 4 of 22 dogs were infected with E. granulosus worm. Later evaluation of the human population living in these abattoirs using abdominal ultrasound, chest X-rays and serology, found 3 of 32 subjects had echinococcal cysts in the liver, one of whom had also a cyst in lung and a positive serological test. This work demonstrates that autochthonous transmission of E. granulosus is present in Lima and that informal, unlicensed abattoirs may be sources of infection to neighbouring people in this urban environment.
PMCID: PMC3317905  PMID: 22509413
10.  Evaluation of Oxfendazole, Praziquantel and Albendazole against Cystic Echinococcosis: A Randomized Clinical Trial in Naturally Infected Sheep 
Cystic Echinococosis (CE) is a zoonotic disease caused by larval stage Echinococcus granulosus. We determined the effects of high dose of Oxfendazole (OXF), combination Oxfendazole/Praziquantel (PZQ), and combination Albendazole (ABZ)/Praziquantel against CE in sheep.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A randomized placebo-controlled trial was carried out on 118 randomly selected ewes. They were randomly assigned to one of the following groups: 1) placebo; 2) OXF 60 mg/Kg of body weight (BW) weekly for four weeks; 3) ABZ 30 mg/Kg BW + PZQ 40 mg/Kg BW weekly for 6 weeks, and 4) OXF 30 mg/Kg BW+ PZQ 40 mg/Kg BW biweekly for 3 administrations (6 weeks). Percent protoscolex (PSC) viability was evaluated using a 0.1% aqueous eosin vital stain for each cyst. “Noninfective” sheep were those that had no viable PSCs; “low-medium infective” were those that had 1% to 60% PSC viability; and “high infective” were those with more than 60% PSC viability. We evaluated 92 of the 118 sheep. ABZ/PZQ led the lowest PSC viability for lung cysts (12.7%), while OXF/PZQ did so for liver cysts (13.5%). The percentage of either “noninfective” or “low-medium infective” sheep was 90%, 93.8% and 88.9% for OXF, ABZ/PZQ and OXF/PZQ group as compared to 50% “noninfective” or “low-medium infective” for placebo. After performing all necropsies, CE prevalence in the flock of sheep was 95.7% (88/92) with a total number of 1094 cysts (12.4 cysts/animal). On average, the two-drug-combination groups resulted pulmonary cysts that were 6 mm smaller and hepatic cysts that were 4.2 mm smaller than placebo (p<0.05).
We demonstrate that Oxfendazole at 60 mg, combination Oxfendazole/Praziquantel and combination Albendazole/Praziquantel are successful schemas that can be added to control measures in animals and merits further study for the treatment of animal CE. Further investigations on different schedules of monotherapy or combined chemotherapy are needed, as well as studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Oxfendazole in humans.
Author Summary
Cystic Echinococcosis (CE) is a near-cosmopolitan parasitic zoonosis that causes economic losses in many regions of the world. This parasitic infection can be regarded as an emerging or re-emerging disease causing considerable losses in livestock production. CE is produced by the larval cystic stage (hydatid) of the dog parasite Echinococcus granulosus. After infective eggs are ingested, cysts develop mainly in lungs and liver of humans and animals (sheep, cattle, pigs, horses, etc). Infected people may require surgery and/or Albendazole-based chemotherapy. In this study, we evaluated the effects of Oxfendazole alone (an antiparasitic drug used in animals), Oxfendazole plus Praziquantel, and Albendazole plus Praziquantel against hydatid cysts in sheep over 4 to 6 weeks of treatment. All of the treatments in this study were efficacious in killing the larval stages and, therefore, in minimizing the risk of a dog acquiring new infections (taenias). These treatment schemes can be added to control measures in animals and eventually could be used for the treatment of human infection. Further investigations on different schedules of monotherapy or combined chemotherapy are needed, as well as studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Oxfendazole in humans.
PMCID: PMC2826409  PMID: 20186332
11.  The Global Burden of Alveolar Echinococcosis 
Human alveolar echinococcosis (AE) is known to be common in certain rural communities in China whilst it is generally rare and sporadic elsewhere. The objective of this study was to provide a first estimate of the global incidence of this disease by country. The second objective was to estimate the global disease burden using age and gender stratified incidences and estimated life expectancy with the disease from previous results of survival analysis. Disability weights were suggested from previous burden studies on echinococcosis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We undertook a detailed review of published literature and data from other sources. We were unable to make a standardised systematic review as the quality of the data was highly variable from different countries and hence if we had used uniform inclusion criteria many endemic areas lacking data would not have been included. Therefore we used evidence based stochastic techniques to model uncertainty and other modelling and estimating techniques, particularly in regions where data quality was poor. We were able to make an estimate of the annual global incidence of disease and annual disease burden using standard techniques for calculation of DALYs. Our studies suggest that there are approximately 18,235 (CIs 11,900–28,200) new cases of AE per annum globally with 16,629 (91%) occurring in China and 1,606 outside China. Most of these cases are in regions where there is little treatment available and therefore will be fatal cases. Based on using disability weights for hepatic carcinoma and estimated age and gender specific incidence we were able to calculate that AE results in a median of 666,434 DALYs per annum (CIs 331,000-1.3 million).
The global burden of AE is comparable to several diseases in the neglected tropical disease cluster and is likely to be one of the most important diseases in certain communities in rural China on the Tibetan plateau.
Author Summary
Human alveolar echinococcosis (AE), caused by the larval stage of the fox tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, is amongst the world's most dangerous zoonoses. Transmission to humans is by consumption of parasite eggs which are excreted in the faeces of the definitive hosts: foxes and, increasingly, dogs. Transmission can be through contact with the definitive host or indirectly through contamination of food or possibly water with parasite eggs. We made an intensive search of English, Russian, Chinese and other language databases. We targeted data which could give country specific incidence or prevalence of disease and searched for data from every country we believed to be endemic for AE. We also used data from other sources (often unpublished). From this information we were able to make an estimate of the annual global incidence of disease and disease burden using standard techniques for calculation of DALYs. Our studies suggest that AE results in a median of 18,235 cases globally with a burden of 666,433 DALYs per annum. This is the first estimate of the global burden of AE both in terms of global incidence and DALYs and demonstrates the burden of AE is comparable to several diseases in the neglected tropical disease cluster.
PMCID: PMC2889826  PMID: 20582310
12.  Human Echinococcosis Mortality in the United States, 1990–2007 
Despite the endemic nature of Echinococcus granulosus and Echinococcus multilocularis infection in regions of the United States (US), there is a lack of data on echinococcosis-related mortality. To measure echinococcosis-associated mortality in the US and assess possible racial/ethnic disparities, we reviewed national-death certificate data for an 18-year period.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Echinococcosis-associated deaths from 1990 through 2007 were identified from multiple-cause-coded death records and were combined with US census data to calculate mortality rates. A total of 41 echinococcosis-associated deaths occurred over the 18-year study period. Mortality rates were highest in males, Native Americans, Asians/Pacific Islanders, Hispanics and persons 75 years of age and older. Almost a quarter of fatal echinococcosis-related cases occurred in residents of California. Foreign-born persons accounted for the majority of echinococcosis-related deaths; however, both of the fatalities in Native Americans and almost half of the deaths in whites were among US-born individuals.
Although uncommon, echinococcosis-related deaths occur in the US. Clinicians should be aware of the diagnosis, particularly in foreign-born patients from Echinococcus endemic areas, and should consider tropical infectious disease consultation early.
Author Summary
Human echinococcosis is a parasitic disease that affects an estimated 2–3 million people and results in an annual monetary loss of over $750,000,000 worldwide. It results in the development of life threatening tissue cysts, primarily in the liver and lung, following accidental ingestion of eggs in infected dog, fox or wild canine feces. Echinococcus parasites have a complex, two-host lifecycle (such as in dogs and sheep) in which humans are an aberrant, dead-end host. The vast majority of cases of human echinococcosis occur outside of the United States (US); however, cases within the US do occur. In this study, the authors examined death certificate data of US residents from 1990–2007 in which echinococcosis was listed as one of the diagnoses at death. The analysis demonstrated 41 echinococcosis-related deaths over the 18-year study period with foreign-born persons accounting for the majority of the deaths. This study helps quantify echinococcosis deaths among US residents and adds further support to the importance of funding echinococcosis prevention research.
PMCID: PMC3274497  PMID: 22347516
13.  Molecular insights into a tetraspanin in the hydatid tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus 
Parasites & Vectors  2015;8:311.
Cystic echinococcosis (hydatid disease), caused by the tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus (class Cestoda; family Taeniidae), is a neglected tropical disease that results in morbidity and mortality in millions of humans, as well as in huge economic losses in the livestock industry globally. Proteins from the tetraspanin family in parasites have recently become regarded as crucial molecules in interaction with hosts in parasitism and are therefore suitable for the development of vaccines and diagnostic agents. However, no information is available to date on E. granulosus tetraspanin.
In this study, a uroplakin-I-like tetraspanin (Eg-TSP1) of E. granulosus was cloned and expressed in E. coli. The immunolocalization of Eg-TSP1 in different life stages of E. granulosus was determined using specific polyclonal antibody. The antibody and cytokine profiles of mice that immunized with recombinant Eg-TSP1 (rEg-TSP1) were measured for the immunogenicity analysis of this protein. Additionally, we use RNA interference method to explore the biological function of Eg-TSP1 in larva of E. granulosus.
Immunofluorescence analysis showed that endogenous Eg-TSP1 mainly localized in the tegument of larvae and adults. Significantly elevated levels of antibodies IgG1 and IgG2a and of cytokines IFN-γ and IL-12 were observed in the sera of mice after immunization with rEg-TSP1, suggesting a typical T helper (Th)1-mediated immune response elicited by rEg-TSP1. On further probing the role of Eg-TSP1 in E. granulosus by RNA interference, we found that a thinner tegmental distal cytoplasm was induced in protoscoleces treated with siRNA-132 compared to controls.
This is the first report characterizing a tetraspanin from the tapeworm E. granulosus. Our results suggest that Eg-TSP1 is associated with biogenesis of the tegument and maintenance of structural integrity of E. granulosus and could therefore be a candidate intervention target for control of hydatid disease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13071-015-0926-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4464875  PMID: 26055542
Echinococcus granulosus; Tetraspanin; Immunolocalization; Immunogenicity; RNA interference
14.  Echinococcosis: An Economic Evaluation of a Veterinary Public Health Intervention in Rural Canada 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2015;9(7):e0003883.
Echinococcosis is a rare but endemic condition in people in Canada, caused by a zoonotic cestode for which the source of human infection is ingestion of parasite eggs shed by canids. The objectives of this study were to identify risk factors associated with infection and to measure the cost-utility of introducing an echinococcosis prevention program in a rural area. We analyzed human case reports submitted to the Canadian Institutes for Health Information between 2002 and 2011. Over this 10 year period, there were 48 cases associated with E. granulosus/E. canadensis, 16 with E. multilocularis, and 251 cases of echinococcosis for which species was not identified (total 315 cases). Nationally, annual incidence of echinococcosis was 0.14 cases per 100 000 people, which is likely an underestimate due to under-diagnosis and under-reporting. Risk factors for echinococcosis included female gender, age (>65 years), and residing in one of the northern territories (Nunavut, Yukon, or Northwest Territories). The average cost of treating a case of cystic echinococcosis in Canada was $8,842 CAD. Cost-utility analysis revealed that dosing dogs with praziquantel (a cestocide) at six week intervals to control cystic echinococcosis is not currently cost-effective at a threshold of $20,000-100,000 per Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) gained, even in a health region with the highest incidence rate in Canada ($666,978 -755,051 per QALY gained). However, threshold analysis demonstrated that the program may become cost-saving at an echinococcosis incidence of 13-85 cases per 100,000 people and therefore, even one additional CE case in a community of 9000 people could result in the monetary benefits of the program outweighing costs.
Author Summary
In Canada, Echinococcus spp. tapeworms cycle primarily among wildlife hosts. People are infected with this parasite when they accidentally consume microscopic eggs spread by canids (e.g. dogs, wolves, coyotes, and foxes), and develop larval cysts, often in the liver or lungs. Echinococcosis can be a life-threatening medical condition with long-term health consequences and can be an economic burden for infected individuals and for the public health system. We analysed national health records to measure echinococcosis incidence and risk factors in Canada, and then used this information to determine if a program that facilitated dog deworming to prevent human infection might be economically feasible. Our model suggested that treating infected individuals is currently less expensive than preventing infection, even in the highest risk regions of Canada. However, deworming dogs might be feasible in small rural communities where at least one case was identified. Furthermore, the prevention program has many add-on benefits that contribute to overall community health, but are not measured by our model.
PMCID: PMC4489623  PMID: 26135476
15.  Priorities for research and control of cestode zoonoses in Asia 
Globally, cestode zoonoses cause serious public health problems, particularly in Asia. Among all neglected zoonotic diseases, cestode zoonoses account for over 75% of global disability adjusted life years (DALYs) lost. An international symposium on cestode zoonoses research and control was held in Shanghai, China between 28th and 30th October 2012 in order to establish joint efforts to study and research effective approaches to control these zoonoses. It brought together 96 scientists from the Asian region and beyond to exchange ideas, report on progress, make a gap analysis, and distill prioritizing settings with a focus on the Asian region. Key objectives of this international symposium were to agree on solutions to accelerate progress towards decreasing transmission, and human mortality and morbidity caused by the three major cestode zoonoses (cystic echinococcosis, alveolar echinococcosis, and cysticercosis); to critically assess the potential to control these diseases; to establish a research and validation agenda on existing and new approaches; and to report on novel tools for the study and control of cestode zoonoses.
PMCID: PMC3750256  PMID: 23915395
Neglected diseases; Cestode zoonoses; Asia; Priority; Gap; Research; Control
16.  An Oral Recombinant Vaccine in Dogs against Echinococcus granulosus, the Causative Agent of Human Hydatid Disease: A Pilot Study 
Dogs are the main source of human cystic echinococcosis. An oral vaccine would be an important contribution to control programs in endemic countries. We conducted two parallel experimental trials in Morocco and Tunisia of a new oral vaccine candidate against Echinococcus granulosus in 28 dogs. The vaccine was prepared using two recombinant proteins from adult worms, a tropomyosin (EgTrp) and a fibrillar protein similar to paramyosin (EgA31), cloned and expressed in a live attenuated strain of Salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium.
In each country, five dogs were vaccinated with the associated EgA31 and EgTrp; three dogs received only the vector Salmonella; and six dogs were used as different controls. The vaccinated dogs received two oral doses of the vaccine 21 d apart, and were challenged 20 d later with 75,000 living protoscoleces. The controls were challenged under the same conditions. All dogs were sacrificed 26–29 d postchallenge, before the appearance of eggs, for safety reasons.
We studied the histological responses to both the vaccine and control at the level of the duodenum, the natural localization of the cestode. Here we show a significant decrease of parasite burden in vaccinated dogs (70% to 80%) and a slower development rate in all remaining worms. The Salmonella vaccine EgA31-EgTrp demonstrated a high efficacy against E. granulosus promoting its potential role in reducing transmission to humans and animals.
Author Summary
In many countries in the world, livestock and humans are affected with hydatid disease, which is caused by the development, in the viscera, of the larval stage of the cestode Echinococcus granulosus. They become infected by ingesting the eggs of this parasite, which are passed in the feces of the dog—the host of the adult worm. Domestic dogs are key in the transmission to livestock and humans.
This disease remains a major economic and public health problem in affected countries. Because dogs are quickly reinfected, control programs in these locations include monthly anthelmintic deworming. These control measures, however, are burdensome for the owner, so they often fail. In contrast, vaccination can take place in control programs at different stages of the parasite life cycle. For example, currently an effective recombinant vaccine for sheep has been developed that should work indirectly to reduce infection in dogs, which tend to eat sheep offal. However, we propose that a recombinant oral vaccine given to the small number of dogs keeping the herd would decrease the number of Echinococcus granulosus adult worms and, consequently, the number of infective eggs. This measure would help reduce the contamination risk factors for humans and livestock, and would be cost-effective for the owners of the dogs.
PMCID: PMC2217674  PMID: 18235847
17.  Alveolar echinococcosis-spreading disease challenging clinicians: A case report and literature review 
Human alveolar echinococcosis (AE) is a potentially deadly disease; recent studies have shown that the endemic area of Echinococcus multilocularis, its causative agent, is larger than previously known. This disease has low prevalence and remains underreported in Europe. Emerging clinical data show that diagnostic difficulties are still common. We report on a 76-year old patient suffering from AE lesions restricted to the left lobe of the liver who underwent a curative extended left hemihepatectomy. Prior to the resection a liver biopsy under the suspicion of an atypical malignancy was performed. After the intervention he developed a pseudoaneurysm of the hepatic artery that was successfully coiled. Surprisingly, during surgery, the macroscopic appearance of the tumour revealed a growth pattern that was rather typical for cystic echinococcosis (CE), i.e., a gross tumour composed of multiple large vesicles with several centimeters in diameter. In addition, there were neither extensive adhesions nor infiltrations of the neighboring pancreas and diaphragm as was expected from previous imaging results. The unexpected diagnosis of AE was confirmed by definite histopathology, specific polymerase chain reaction and serology results. This is a rare case of unusual macroscopic presentation of AE that posed immense diagnostic challenges and had an eventful course. To our knowledge this is the first case of an autochthonous infection in this particular geographic area of Germany, the federal state of Saxony. This report may provide new hints for an expanding area of risk for AE and emphasizes the risk of complications in the scope of diagnostic procedures and the limitations of modern radiological imaging.
PMCID: PMC3710431  PMID: 23864792
Alveolar echinococcosis; Echinococcus multilocularis; Autochthonous infection; Liver resection; Hemihepatectomy
18.  Natural Infection of the Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus spp.) with Echinococcus granulosus in China 
Echinococcus granulosus is usually transmitted between canid definitive hosts and ungulate intermediate hosts.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Lesions found in the livers of ground squirrels, Spermophilus dauricus/alashanicus, trapped in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, an area in China co-endemic for both E. granulosus and E. multilocularis, were subjected to molecular genotyping for Echinococcus spp. DNA. One of the lesions was shown to be caused by E. granulosus and subsequently by histology to contain viable protoscoleces.
This is the first report of a natural infection of the ground squirrel with E. granulosus. This does not provide definitive proof of a cycle involving ground squirrels and dogs or foxes, but it is clear that there is active E. granulosus transmission occurring in this area, despite a recent past decline in the dog population in southern Ningxia.
Author Summary
Echinococcus granulosus and E. multilocularis are important zoonotic pathogens that cause serious disease in humans. E. granulosus can be transmitted through sylvatic cycles, involving wild carnivores and ungulates; or via domestic cycles, usually involving dogs and farm livestock. E. multilocularis is primarily maintained in a sylvatic life-cycle between foxes and rodents. As part of extensive investigations that we undertook to update available epidemiological data and to monitor the transmission patterns of both E. granulosus and E. mulilocularis in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (NHAR) in northwest China, we captured small mammals on the southern slopes of Yueliang Mountain, Xiji, an area co-endemic for human alveolar echinococcosis and cystic echinococcosis. Of 500 trapped small mammals (mainly ground squirrels; Spermophilus dauricus/alashanicus), macroscopic cyst-like lesions (size range 1–10 mm) were found on the liver surface of approximately 10% animals. One of the lesions was shown by DNA analysis to be caused by E. granulosus and by histology to contain viable protoscoleces. This is the first report of a natural infection of the ground squirrel with E. granulosus. We have no definitive proof of a cycle involving ground squirrels and dogs/foxes but it is evident that there is active E. granulosus transmission occurring in this area.
PMCID: PMC2737643  PMID: 19771151
19.  Serological evidence for human cystic echinococcosis in Slovenia 
Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is caused by the larva of tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus. Dogs and other canids are the primary definitive hosts for this parasite. CE may develop after accidental ingestion of tapeworm eggs, excreted with the feces of these animals. In the intestine, the larvae released from the eggs are nested in the liver, lungs or other organs of livestock as intermediate hosts and humans as aberrant hosts. The aim of this study was to examine serologically whether some of the patients in Slovenia, suspected of CE by imaging findings in the liver or lungs had been infected with the larva of Echinococcus granulosus.
Between January 1, 2002 and the end of December 2006, 1323 patients suspected of having echinococcosis were screened serologically by indirect haemagglutination assay (IHA). For confirmation and differentiation of Echinococcus spp. infection, the sera of IHA-positive patients were then retested by western blot (WB).
Out of 127 IHA-positive sera, 34 sera were confirmed by WB and considered specific for CE. Of 34 sera of CE-positive patients sera, 32 corresponded to the characteristic imaging findings of a liver cysts and 2 to those of lung cysts. The mean age of CE-positive patients was 58.3 years. No significant differences were found between the CE-positive patients in regard to their sex.
In the study, it was found out that CE was mostly spread in the same area of Slovenia as in the past, but its prevalence decreased from 4.8 per 105 inhabitants in the period 1956–1968 to 1.7 per 105 inhabitants in the period 2002–2006. In spite of the decreased prevalence of CE in the last years, it is suggested that clinicians and public health authorities, especially in the eastern parts of Slovenia where the most CE patients come from, should pay greater attention to this disease in the future.
PMCID: PMC2412869  PMID: 18471283
20.  Early Peritoneal Immune Response during Echinococcus granulosus Establishment Displays a Biphasic Behavior 
Cystic echinococcosis is a worldwide distributed helminth zoonosis caused by the larval stage of Echinococcus granulosus. Human secondary cystic echinococcosis is caused by dissemination of protoscoleces after accidental rupture of fertile cysts and is due to protoscoleces ability to develop into new metacestodes. In the experimental model of secondary cystic echinococcosis mice react against protoscoleces producing inefficient immune responses, allowing parasites to develop into cysts. Although the chronic phase of infection has been analyzed in depth, early immune responses at the site of infection establishment, e.g., peritoneal cavity, have not been well studied. Because during early stages of infection parasites are thought to be more susceptible to immune attack, this work focused on the study of cellular and molecular events triggered early in the peritoneal cavity of infected mice.
Principal Findings
Data obtained showed disparate behaviors among subpopulations within the peritoneal lymphoid compartment. Regarding B cells, there is an active molecular process of plasma cell differentiation accompanied by significant local production of specific IgM and IgG2b antibodies. In addition, peritoneal NK cells showed a rapid increase with a significant percentage of activated cells. Peritoneal T cells showed a substantial increase, with predominance in CD4+ T lymphocytes. There was also a local increase in Treg cells. Finally, cytokine response showed local biphasic kinetics: an early predominant induction of Th1-type cytokines (IFN-γ, IL-2 and IL-15), followed by a shift toward a Th2-type profile (IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10 and IL-13).
Results reported here open new ways to investigate the involvement of immune effectors players in E. granulosus establishment, and also in the sequential promotion of Th1- toward Th2-type responses in experimental secondary cystic echinococcosis. These data would be relevant for designing rational therapies based on stimulation of effective responses and blockade of evasion mechanisms.
Author Summary
Cystic echinococcosis is a zoonotic disease caused by the larval stage of the cestode Echinococcus granulosus and shows a cosmopolitan distribution with a worldwide prevalence of roughly 6 million infected people. Human cystic echinococcosis can develop in two types of infection. Primary infection occurs by ingestion of oncospheres, while secondary infection is caused by dissemination of protoscoleces after accidental rupture of fertile cysts. Murine experimental secondary infection in Balb/c mice is the current model to study E. granulosus-host interaction. Secondary infection can be divided into two stages: an early stage in which protoscoleces develop into hydatid cysts (infection establishment) and a later stage in which already differentiated cysts grow and eventually become fertile cysts (chronic infection). During infection establishment parasites are more susceptible to immune attack, thus our study focused on the immunological phenomena triggered early in the peritoneal cavity of experimentally infected mice. Our results suggest that early and local Th2-type responses are permissive for infection establishment.
PMCID: PMC3166041  PMID: 21912714
21.  A Systematic Review of the Epidemiology of Echinococcosis in Domestic and Wild Animals 
Human echinococcosis is a neglected zoonosis caused by parasites of the genus Echinococcus. The most frequent clinical forms of echinococcosis, cystic echinococcosis (CE) and alveolar echinococcosis (AE), are responsible for a substantial health and economic burden, particularly to low-income societies. Quantitative epidemiology can provide important information to improve the understanding of parasite transmission and hence is an important part of efforts to control this disease. The purpose of this review is to give an insight on factors associated with echinococcosis in animal hosts by summarising significant results reported from epidemiological studies identified through a systematic search.
Methodology and Principal Findings
The systematic search was conducted mainly in electronic databases but a few additional records were obtained from other sources. Retrieved entries were examined in order to identify available peer-reviewed epidemiological studies that found significant risk factors for infection using associative statistical methods. One hundred studies met the eligibility criteria and were suitable for data extraction. Epidemiological factors associated with increased risk of E. granulosus infection in dogs included feeding with raw viscera, possibility of scavenging dead animals, lack of anthelmintic treatment and owners' poor health education and indicators of poverty. Key factors associated with E. granulosus infection in intermediate hosts were related to the hosts' age and the intensity of environmental contamination with parasite eggs. E. multilocularis transmission dynamics in animal hosts depended on the interaction of several ecological factors, such as hosts' population densities, host-prey interactions, landscape characteristics, climate conditions and human-related activities.
Results derived from epidemiological studies provide a better understanding of the behavioural, biological and ecological factors involved in the transmission of this parasite and hence can aid in the design of more effective control strategies.
Author Summary
Echinococcosis is considered a neglected zoonotic disease caused by the larval form of Echinococcus spp. tapeworms. Humans become infected through the accidental intake of parasitic eggs excreted by the faeces of definitive hosts (dogs, foxes and other canids). Infection involves the development of cysts, primarily in the lungs and liver, causing damage as they enlarge like a slowly growing tumor. Transmission is facilitated by the general lack of awareness of infection factors and epidemiological models can identify them. Nevertheless, there has never been a systematic review summarizing the significant determinants for echinococcosis in animals. One hundred publications were included in the results after evaluating 1,935 entries and screening the references lists of the eligible papers. Principal factors associated with canine infection included the access of dogs to infected offal, allowing dogs to roam free, being a young and/or male dog and social behaviours linked with poor health conditions and poor living environments of dog owners. Ecological factors influencing E. multilocularis transmission encompassed population densities of foxes and rodents, predator-prey relationships, geographical characteristics, climate conditions and the movement of foxes towards urban areas. These findings are important, as intervention to control echinococcosis requires intervention in animal populations.
PMCID: PMC3674998  PMID: 23755310
22.  Species identification of human echinococcosis using histopathology and genotyping in northwestern China 
Human cystic echinococcosis, caused by infection with the larval stage of Echinococcus granulosus, and alveolar echinococcosis, caused by the larval form of E. multilocularis, are known to be important public health problems in western China. Echinococcus shiquicus is a new species of Echinococcus recently described in wildlife hosts from the eastern Tibetan plateau and its infectivity and/or pathogenicity in humans remain unknown. In the current study, parasite tissues from various organs were collected post-operatively from 68 echinococcosis patients from Sichuan and Qinghai provinces in eastern China. The tissues were examined by histopathology and genotyped using DNA sequencing and PCR-RFLP. Histopathologically, 38 human isolates were confirmed as E. granulosus and 30 as E. multilocularis. Mitochondrial cob gene sequencing and PCR-RFLP with rrnL as the target gene confirmed 33 of 53 of the isolates to have the G1 genotype of sheep/dog strain of E. granulosus as the only source of infection, while the remaining 20 isolates were identified as E. multilocularis. No infections were found to be caused by E. shiquicus. Additionally, 5 of 20 alveolar echinococcosis patients were confirmed to have intracranial metastases from primary hepatic alveolar echinococcosis lesions. All these cases originated from four provinces or autonomous regions but most were distributed in Sichuan and Qinghai provinces, where high prevalence rates of human alveolar echinococcosis and cystic echinococcosis were previously documented.
PMCID: PMC2517144  PMID: 18396303
Alveolar echinococcosis; Cystic echinococcosis; Echinococcus shiquicus; Histopathology; PCR; Tibet
23.  Widespread co-endemicity of human cystic and alveolar echinococcosis on the eastern Tibetan Plateau, northwest Sichuan/southeast Qinghai, China 
Acta tropica  2009;113(3):248-256.
Cystic echinococcosis (CE) or hydatid disease is known to be cosmopolitan in its global distribution, while alveolar echinococcosis (AE) is a much rarer though more pathogenic hepatic parasitic disease restricted to the northern hemisphere. Both forms of human echinococcosis are known to occur on the Tibetan Plateau, but the epidemiological characteristics remain poorly understood. In our current study, abdominal ultrasound screening programs for echinococcosis were conducted in thirty-one Tibetan townships in Ganze and Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures of northwest Sichuan Province during 2001-2008. Hospital records (1992-2006) in a major regional treatment centre for echinococcosis in Sichuan Province were also reviewed. Of 10,186 local residents examined by portable ultrasound scan, 645 (6.3%) were diagnosed with echinococcosis: a prevalence of 3.2% for CE, 3.1% for AE and 0.04% for dual infection (both CE and AE). Human cystic and alveolar echinococcosis in pastoral areas was highly co-endemic, in comparison to much lower prevalences in semi-pastoral or farming regions. The high ultrasound prevalence in these co-endemic areas in northwest Sichuan Province was also reflected in the hospital study, and hospital records furthermore indicated another possible highly co-endemic focus in Guoluo Prefecture of Qinghai Province, located at the border of northwest Sichuan. These chronic cestode zoonoses constitute an unparalleled major public health problem for pastoral Tibetan communities, and pose great difficulties for adequate treatment access and effective transmission control in such remote regions.
PMCID: PMC2847145  PMID: 19941830
Cystic echinococcosis; Alveolar echinococcosis; Ultrasound; Prevalence; Tibetan; Sichuan Province; Qinghai Province
24.  Molecular and immunological diagnosis of echinococcosis. 
Clinical Microbiology Reviews  1992;5(3):248-261.
Echinococcosis is an infectious disease of humans caused by the larval (metacestode) stage of the cestode species Echinococcus granulosus (cystic echinococcosis or hydatid disease) or Echinococcus multilocularis (alveolar echinococcosis or alveolar hydatid disease). Clinical manifestations depend primarily on localization and size of hepatic lesions and may include hepatomegaly, obstructive jaundice, or cholangitis. Prognostically, alveolar echinococcosis is considered similar to liver malignancies, including a lethality rate of 90% for untreated cases. Diagnosis is based on imaging techniques coupled with immunodiagnostic procedures. Antibody detection tests for E. multilocularis have markedly improved with the use of affinity-purified Em2 antigen and recombinant antigen II/3-10 in enzyme immunoassays. Antigens of corresponding quality for E. granulosus are still unavailable. The detection of circulating antigens and immune complexes in the sera of patients with cystic echinococcosis, the demonstration of in vitro lymphocyte proliferation in response to stimulation with Echinococcus antigens, and the discrimination of serum immunoglobulin isotype activity to various Echinococcus antigens in both cystic and alveolar echinococcosis have been suggested for diagnostic purposes as well as for monitoring patients after treatment. New diagnostic molecular tools include DNA probes for Southern hybridization tests and polymerase chain reaction for the amplification of E. multilocularis and E. granulosus species-specific DNA fragments.
PMCID: PMC358243  PMID: 1498767
25.  Impact of Increased Economic Burden Due to Human Echinococcosis in an Underdeveloped Rural Community of the People's Republic of China 
Ningxia is located in western People's Republic of China, which is hyperendemic for human cystic echinococcosis (CE) throughout the entire area with alveolar echinococcosis (AE) hyperendemic in the south. This is in part due to its underdeveloped economy. Despite the recent rapid growth in P.R. China's economy, medical expenditure for hospitalization of echinococcosis cases has become one of the major poverty generators in rural Ningxia, resulting in a significant social problem.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We reviewed the 2000 inpatient records with liver CE in surgical departments of hospitals from north, central and south Ningxia for the period 1996–2002. We carried out an analysis of health care expenditure of inpatient treatment in public hospitals, and examined the financial inequalities relating to human echinococcosis and the variation in per capita income between various socioeconomic groups with different levels of gross domestic product for different years. Hospital charges for Yinchuan, NHAR's capital city in the north, increased approximately 35-fold more than the annual income of rural farmers with the result that they preferred to seek health care in local county hospitals, despite higher quality and more efficient treatment and diagnosis available in the city. Household income levels thus strongly influenced the choice of health care provider and the additional expense impeded access of poor people to better quality treatment.
Information on socioeconomic problems arising from echinococcosis, which adds considerably to the burden on patient families and communities, needs to be collected as a prerequisite for developing policies to tackle the disease in rural Ningxia.
Author Summary
This paper compares medical expenditure for hospital treatment of echinococcosis in NHAR, western People's Republic of China, for different years, different regions and different socioeconomic groups. The results show that the level of household income strongly influences health care decisions. This study represents an effort to determine the effect of hospital charges for inpatient treatment of echinococcosis on the choice of provider in NHAR, and quantitatively examines this topic for the rural poor. The findings show that low income individuals from rural areas opted to visit a local county hospital rather than an urban hospital for hydatid surgery despite the inferior infrastructure, personnel and general health care facilities available. There are a number of policy implications. For example, enhancing the quality and service of county hospitals in rural areas will benefit those with lower incomes, thus improving access of rural residents to health facilities for higher quality diagnosis and efficient treatment. Thus, we advocate that government policy should be to increase investment in health care in poor rural areas, and to launch relevant medical aid projects to help those in poverty.
PMCID: PMC2939032  PMID: 20856852

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