Echinococcosis (patient information)
Echinococcosis On the Web
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What are the symptoms of Echinococcosis?
A liver cyst may produce no symptoms for 10 - 20 years until it is large enough to be felt by physical examination. Symptoms include:
- Pain in the upper right part of the abdomen
- Bloody sputum
- Chest pain
- Severe skin itching
What causes Echinococcosis?
Echinococcus is common in:
- Central Asia
- Southern South America
- The Mediterranean
- The Middle East
- In the United States, the disease is very rare. However, it has been reported in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.
Humans become infected when they swallow eggs in contaminated food. The infection is carried to the liver, where cysts form. Cysts can also form in the:
Who is at highest risk?
Risk factors include being exposed to:
- Feces of dogs, wolves, or coyotes
When to seek urgent medical care?
Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of this disorder.
A physical examination may show signs of:
The following tests may be done to find the cysts:
- Abdominal CT scan or ultrasound
- Abdominal X-ray
- Blood test
- Chest x-ray
- Liver function tests
- Thoracic CT scan or ultrasound
The cysts may be removed with surgery, if possible. This can be a complicated surgery.
Where to find medical care for Echinococcosis?
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
If the cysts respond to oral medication, the likely outcome is good.
The cysts may break open (rupture) and cause severe illness, including:
In areas where the disease is known to occur, health education and routinely removing tapeworms from dogs can help prevent the disease.