Atlas of livestock parasites
digitized collection of microscopical preparations

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Echinococcus granulosus (dog, cat)



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„dwarf dog or fox tapeworm“  

Echinococcus granulosus and E. multilocularis infect dogs and wild canids. Cats are infrequently infected with E. multilocularis.  

Distribution: Echinococcus granulosus is found worldwide; E. multilocularis occurs in the United States, Canada, and in parts of Europe and Asia.           

Host: Small intestine.   

Life Cycle: Carnivores acquire infections through the ingestion of metacestodes (hydatids) in the tissues of prey animals. Prey animals become infected with the metacestode through the ingestion of eggs passed in carnivore feces. Final hosts are dogs and rarely red foxes.  Intermediate hosts are domestic ruminants, primates and humans !           

Diagnosis: Like the eggs of Taenia, Echinococcus eggs have a thick shell wall with radial striations (embryophore). The six hooks of the hexacanth embryo allow it to be distinguished from pollen grains or other debris. The eggs of Taenia and Echinococcus are morphologically identical.      

Size: 25–40µm in diameter. Difficult as the adult tapeworm segments are sparsely shed and small ! Identification is based on size.       

Clinical features: : Infections in the defnitive host are subclinical. Echinococcus spp. are important due to their zoonotic potential ! Human infection with hydatid cysts can cause serious disease and death (if a cyst ruptures there is risk of death from anaphylaxis). In some countries, particularly in rural areas, hydatid disease can be an important public health problem. In most areas of tropical countries, canine infection and human hydatid disease are common there !             


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