Atlas of foodborne infections
transmitted by contaminated food and water

Atlas of Patogens Contents Information sources Glossary Administration

Echinococcus granulosus

CZ: echinokok
EN: tapeworm

Meat and Meat Products
Fruits and Vegetables
Water and Beverages


Foodborne Disease:
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Cystic echinococcosis (CE) or hydatid disease is caused by the larval stage of the tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus. Its natural cycle is as a cyst in sheep and as a tapeworm in dogs.

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Dogs feed on infected sheep meat and in turn shed eggs in their faeces which are ingested by sheep. Humans become infected by ingesting food or water contaminated with faecal material containing tapeworm eggs passed from infected carnivores, or when they handle or pet infected dogs.

Cysts, often sited in the abdomen, grow slowly over time and can become very large. The cure is usually surgery.

Hydatid disease is found throughout the world in communities where sheep are reared together with dogs. It is highly prevalent in many developing countries, especially in poor communities.

In humans, the incidence of surgical cases ranges from 0.1 to 45 cases per 100 000 and the real prevalence ranges between 0.22% to 24% in endemic areas.

Control is through deworming of dogs and preventing dogs from eating undercooked sheep meat, especially offal, as well as abattoir control and health education. It causes serious human suffering and considerable losses in agricultural and human productivity.

Transmission is facilitated by the general lack of awareness of transmission factors and prevention measures among the population at risk, abundance of stray dogs, poor meat inspection in abattoirs, improper disposal of offal and home slaughtering practices. The economic consequences are often not known, resulting in subsequent neglect during priority setting.


Source: "Hydatid sand" - scolexes into echinococcus cysts
Source: Adult tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus
Source: Different types of cestode intermediate stages
Source: Echinococcus cysts (liver)
Source: Echinococcus granulosus - detail of scolex
Source: Life cycle of Echinococcus granulosus

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