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1.  Latent-Class Methods to Evaluate Diagnostics Tests for Echinococcus Infections in Dogs 
The diagnosis of canine echinococcosis can be a challenge in surveillance studies because there is no perfect gold standard that can be used routinely. However, unknown test specificities and sensitivities can be overcome using latent-class analysis with appropriate data.
We utilised a set of faecal and purge samples used previously to explore the epidemiology of canine echinococcosis on the Tibetan plateau. Previously only the purge results were reported and analysed in a largely deterministic way. In the present study, additional diagnostic tests of copro-PCR and copro-antigen ELISA were undertaken on the faecal samples. This enabled a Bayesian analysis in a latent-class model to examine the diagnostic performance of a genus specific copro-antigen ELISA, species-specific copro-PCR and arecoline purgation. Potential covariates including co-infection with Taenia, age and sex of the dog were also explored. The dependence structure of these diagnostic tests could also be analysed.
Principle findings
The most parsimonious result, indicated by deviance-information criteria, suggested that co-infection with Taenia spp. was a significant covariate with the Echinococcus infection. The copro-PCRs had estimated sensitivities of 89% and 84% respectively for the diagnoses of Echinococcus multilocularis and E. granulosus. The specificities for the copro-PCR were estimated at 93 and 83% respectively. Copro-antigen ELISA had sensitivities of 55 and 57% for the diagnosis of E. multilocularis and E. granulosus and specificities of 71 and 69% respectively. Arecoline purgation with an assumed specificity of 100% had estimated sensitivities of 76% and 85% respectively.
This study also shows that incorporating diagnostic uncertainty, in other words assuming no perfect gold standard, and including potential covariates like sex or Taenia co-infection into the epidemiological analysis may give different results than if the diagnosis of infection status is assumed to be deterministic and this approach should therefore be used whenever possible.
Author Summary
Dogs are a key definitive host of Echinococcus spp; hence, accurate diagnosis in dogs is important for the surveillance and control of echinococcosis. A perfect diagnostic test would detect every infected dog (100% sensitivity) whilst never giving a false positive reaction in non-infected dogs (100% specificity). Since no such test exists, it is important to understand the performance of available diagnostic techniques. We used the results of a study that used three diagnostic tests on dogs from the Tibetan plateau, where there is co-endemicity of E. granulosus and E. multilocularis. In this study opro-antigen ELISA and copro-PCR diagnostic tests were undertaken on faecal samples from all animals. The dogs were also purged with arecoline hydrobromide to recover adult parasites as a highly specific but relatively insensitive third diagnostic test. We used a statistical approach (Bayesian latent-class models) to estimate simultaneously the sensitivities of all three tests and the specificities of the copro-antigen and copro-PCR tests. We also analysed how some determinants of infection can affect parasite prevalence. This approach provides a robust framework to increase the accuracy of surveillance and epidemiological studies of echinococcosis by overcoming the problems of poor diagnostic test performance.
PMCID: PMC3573084  PMID: 23459420
2.  Global Socioeconomic Impact of Cystic Echinococcosis 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2006;12(2):296-303.
Because the human and economic losses of cystic echinococcosis are substantial, global prevention and control measures should be increased.
Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is an emerging zoonotic parasitic disease throughout the world. Human incidence and livestock prevalence data of CE were gathered from published literature and the Office International des Epizooties databases. Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and monetary losses, resulting from human and livestock CE, were calculated from recorded human and livestock cases. Alternative values, assuming substantial underreporting, are also reported. When no underreporting is assumed, the estimated human burden of disease is 285,407 (95% confidence interval [CI], 218,515–366,133) DALYs or an annual loss of US $193,529,740 (95% CI, $171,567,331–$217,773,513). When underreporting is accounted for, this amount rises to 1,009,662 (95% CI, 862,119–1,175,654) DALYs or US $763,980,979 (95% CI, $676,048,731–$857,982,275). An annual livestock production loss of at least US $141,605,195 (95% CI, $101,011,553–$183,422,465) and possibly up to US $2,190,132,464 (95% CI, $1,572,373,055–$2,951,409,989) is also estimated. This initial valuation demonstrates the necessity for increased monitoring and global control of CE.
PMCID: PMC3373106  PMID: 16494758
echinococcosis; cestodes; cost of illness; burden of illness; economics; zoonoses

Results 1-2 (2)