Echinococcosis - Symptoms In Humans And What It Is

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Echinococcosis - Symptoms In Humans And What It Is
Echinococcosis - Symptoms In Humans And What It Is
Video: Echinococcosis - Symptoms In Humans And What It Is
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  • 1 What is echinococcosis?

    • 1.1 Life cycle of echinococcus and routes of infection
    • 1.2 Causes and symptoms of echinococcosis
    • 1.3 Types of disease and sites of manifestation
  • 2 Treatment of echinococcosis

A rather rare parasitic disease that develops against the background of the penetration of the larva of the helminth Echinococcus granulosus into the human body is called echinococcosis. Echinococcus in humans can affect different organs. More often it is localized in the liver, but sometimes echinococcosis of the lungs, kidneys and brain was diagnosed. In our article we will tell you everything about echinococcus: what it is, what echinococcus looks like, symptoms in humans, and also how to treat echinococcosis.

What is echinococcosis?

larval stage echinococcus granulosus
larval stage echinococcus granulosus

If we talk about what echinococcosis is, then it is a disease caused by the larval stage of echinococcus granulosus. Sexually mature echinococcus in the photo is represented by a small worm no more than 5.4 mm long. It has a pear-shaped scolex - a head end and several segments. The scolex has suction cups and two rows of hooks.

Echinococcosis in a person's photo looks like a rounded cyst with liquid contents, which is more often found in the liver. Sexually mature individuals in the photo of echinococcosis in humans cannot be detected, since only the larva parasitizes in our body. This is due to the fact that a person acts as an intermediate host, and representatives of the canine family are the final hosts of the parasite. It is in their intestines that it matures to the stage of an adult helminth.

Echinococcus in the liver in the photo is a bubble of a complex structure. This is cystic echinococcosis. The outer layer of the capsule is a lamellar shell called the cuticle, up to 5 mm thick. Beneath it is the embryonic structure that produces daughter bubbles and brood capsules. It also ensures the growth of a layered capsule shell.

Echinococcus life cycle and routes of infection

ways of infection
ways of infection

If we talk about how the disease is transmitted, then the final owner is the dog. It is upon contact with these animals that human echinococcosis becomes infected. The disease can appear in dogs due to their eating meat waste from slaughterhouses, kitchens, slaughter areas. Also, dogs can become infected by eating hunting products.

The disease is not transmitted from person to person, since there are no sexually mature individuals in our body for the production of eggs. Possible ways of infecting people are as follows:

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  1. Infection of herbivores can occur by ingesting the eggs of the parasite with grass, water and hay. Echinococci can get to a person when cutting carcasses.
  2. Most often, echinococcosis is transmitted by contact with dogs, on the wool of which there are worm eggs. They get there by licking after a bowel movement or licking a sick dog.
  3. It is not excluded that such a way is when echinococcosis of the liver or other organ occurs due to the consumption of unwashed fruits and greens, water from natural reservoirs.
  4. Also, infection can occur from wild carnivores when cutting skins after hunting, sewing fur clothes.

When searching for the causes of echinococcosis, the pathways of infection may be associated with professional activities. So, the risk group includes shepherds, shepherds, sheared sheep and their family members.

Before the diagnosis of echinococcosis is carried out, it is necessary to learn to understand the stages of development of the parasite:

  1. Since the canine family is the primary host, a sexually mature helminth lives in their small intestine. Of all its segments, only the last one is mature and filled with eggs.
  2. When the segment is separated from the worm, it goes out with feces, where it breaks and is seeding with eggs of the entire environment.
  3. As soon as the egg (oncosphere) is swallowed by another organism, the larval stage of development begins. Thanks to the digestive juices, the embryo is freed from the capsule and, with the help of hooks, penetrates the gastrointestinal mucosa.
  4. With the bloodstream or lymph, it enters other organs. After settling in them, the larva begins to acquire a bubbly structure in a couple of weeks. After six months, the cyst can reach 5 mm in size. The bubble grows slowly, so the first signs of the disease appear after a few years.

Causes and symptoms of echinococcosis

symptoms of echinococcosis
symptoms of echinococcosis

The main causes of echinococcosis are not associated with the presence of a cyst in the human body, but with the mechanical pressure of the growing neoplasm on the surrounding tissues and organs. If a person has echinococcosis, the symptoms and course of the disease (regardless of the location of the cysts) can be conditionally divided into three stages:

  1. The latent stage lasts from the beginning of the invasion until the first signs of the disease appear. At this stage, the patient is not worried about anything. In the asymptomatic stage, echinococcal cysts can be detected only by chance when conducting an examination for another reason. The only manifestation of the disease is passing episodes of urticaria, which is accompanied by severe itching. Incubation period: 8-13 weeks, but can reach up to 15 years (with alveolar echinococcosis).
  2. Symptoms of echinococcosis in humans begin to appear at the second stage, when the neoplasm grows to a significant size and puts pressure on the surrounding tissues. At this time, the patient may be tormented by such manifestations of the disease:
  • dyspeptic disorders;
  • dull aching pain in the hypochondrium on the right side;
  • there is an increase in the liver.

Treatment of echinococcosis is most difficult to carry out at the last stage, when complications join. They occur in 10-15 percent of patients. Possible complications of the disease include the following:

  • the cyst may fester;
  • obstructive jaundice occurs against the background of obstruction of the bile ducts;
  • portal hypertension;
  • anaphylactic shock;
  • liver failure;
  • rupture of the cyst with the release of the contents into the intestines, stomach or abdominal cavity;
  • deposition in the walls of the cyst of calcium;
  • when the larvae enter the blood and lymph, larval metastases occur in other organs (lungs, brain, spleen)

Types of disease and places of manifestation

cystic echinococcosis
cystic echinococcosis

If a person has echinococcosis, the diagnosis of this ailment is carried out taking into account that there are two forms of the disease:

  1. Cystic echinococcosis. This ailment is also called hydatidosis or hydatid disease. This type of disease is provoked by Echinococcus granulosus.
  2. The second form is called alveolar echinococcosis. It is caused by Echinococcus multilocularis.

When echinococcosis is diagnosed, liver damage is most often found. But there are also such rare forms of this disease:

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  • echinococcosis of the brain;
  • kidney;
  • intestines;
  • echinococcosis of the mediastinum.

The rarest forms of the disease include echinococcosis of bones, mammary gland and subcutaneous tissue.

Echinococcosis treatment

microscopic examination of urine
microscopic examination of urine

If it is suspected that echinococci have entered the body, treatment is carried out only after a thorough diagnosis. For this, the doctor must collect anamnesis and clarify the patient's complaints. An epidemic history is also taken into account.

Laboratory methods for diagnosing echinococcosis are as follows:

  1. Eosinophilia can be found in the KLA. A biochemical blood test reveals a decrease in albumin, prothrombin and an increase in gamma globulins. This usually indicates a violation of the protein synthesis function of the liver.
  2. A microscopic examination of urine is carried out, in which the causative agent of the disease can be identified.
  3. Do the Cassoni test. For this, an echinococcal antigen is injected subcutaneously. A positive test indirectly indicates a disease.
  4. You can also examine sputum for the presence of the pathogen.
  5. Immunological diagnostic methods include RNGA, latex agglutination reaction, double diffusion in a gel, IEF and VIEF, XRF, scolex precipitation reaction, ELISA.

Among the instrumental diagnostic techniques, it is worth listing:

  1. Ultrasound can detect cysts in the abdominal organs.
  2. With the help of MRI, pathological processes in soft tissues and the brain are found. In this case, you can accurately determine the location, size and number of cysts.
  3. A liver biopsy is needed for differential diagnosis.
  4. Sometimes an x-ray is done to diagnose cysts in the abdomen.
  5. CT allows you to identify the location, structure, size and density of the cyst.

Treatment of echinococcosis is carried out in compliance with the following general recommendations:

  1. The patient is assigned a dietary table number five.
  2. Conservative treatment allows you to eliminate the symptoms of the disease and protect the patient from relapse, but the main treatment is only surgical. As a conservative therapy, the patient is prescribed the following medications:
  • analgesics for pain relief and elimination of symptoms of vomiting and nausea;
  • hepatoprotectors to normalize the liver;
  • therapy with antiparasitic drugs is indicated in order to protect against contamination with eggs of other organs, which is possible during and after the operation.

With echinococcosis, different methods of surgical treatment are used:

  • radical operation allows you to completely eliminate the pathological process (for this purpose, an organ resection or pericystectomy is performed - removal of a formation with a capsule);
  • resection of the cyst and treatment of this area with antiparasitic solutions;
  • palliative operations: cryotherapy and chemotherapy can destroy and remove the affected tissues, as well as destroy parasites;
  • operations to eliminate complications - drainage of the abdominal cavity, cysts, biliary tract.

After treatment, the patient must be registered at the dispensary for 6-12 years. The patient is examined once a year. To do this, take a blood test (UAC and biochemistry), urine, do ultrasound and x-rays. A serological blood test is also done.


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