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Echinococcosis – Pathophysiology and Symptoms

Echinococcosis

is also known as echinococcal disease or hydatid disease. This is a parasitic disease which affects mammals like horses, rodents, dogs, sheep as well as humans. In humans, there are three forms of echinococcosis found. These three forms are caused by larval stages of various species of Echinococcus. These include cystic echinococcosis, the most common form found in humans, which is caused by

Echinococcus granulosus

. Alveolar echinococcsis is the other form which is caused by

Echinococcus multilocularis

and polycystic echinococcosis is the third form, which is caused by

Echinococcus vogeli

. Read on to know more about the

pathophysiology and symptoms of echinococcosis

.

Pathophysiology of Echinococcosis

If larval eggs are ingested which are present in the animal feces, they finally hatch in the gut. The larvae then penetrates the intestinal wall and migrate either to the lungs or liver. In very rare cases, they migrate in the other organs, bone or brain.

The larvae of E. granulosus form very slowly into large fluid-filled, unilocular lesions which are known as hydatid cysts. Within the cysts, many small infective protoscolices are present. The large cysts may contain more than 1 L of antigenic fluid and protoscolices. When a cyst in the liver ruptures, the infection may spread to the peritoneum. Echinococcus multilocularis may produce spongy masses which are locally invasive. These are difficult to treat surgically.

Symptoms of Hydatid Disease

Hydatid disease or echinococcosis may not exhibit any symptoms for 10-20 years as the cysts grow at a very slow pace. When the symptoms finally appear, these include:

  • Seizures
  • Headaches
  • Bloody stools
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Weakness
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Persistent cough
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain

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