What is Echinococcal cyst?
Echinococcosis, also called hydatid disease, hydatidosis, or echinococcal disease, is a parasitic disease of tapeworms of the Echinococcus type. People get two main types of disease, cystic echinococcosis and alveolar echinococcosis. There are two less common forms polycystic echinococcosis and unicystic echinococcosis. The disease often starts without symptoms and this may last for a year. The symptoms and signs that occur depend on the cyst's location and size. Alveolar disease usually begins in the liver but can spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or brain. When the liver is affected the person may have abdominal pain, weight loss, and turn yellow. Lung disease may cause pain in the chest, shortness of breath and coughing.
The disease is spread when food or water that contains the eggs of the parasite is eaten or by close contact with an infected animal. The eggs are released in the stool of meat-eating animals that are infected by the parasite. For these animals to become infected they must eat the organs of an animal that contains the cysts such as sheep or rodents. The type of disease which occurs in people depends on the type of Echinococcus causing the infection. It is a type of worm infection and is a neglected tropical disease. --> Blood tests looking for antibodies against the parasite may be helpful as may biopsy.
Prevention of cystic disease is by treating dogs that may carry the disease and vaccination of sheep. Treatment is often difficult. The cystic disease may be drained through the skin, followed by medication. Sometimes this type of disease is just watched. The medication used is albendazole which may be needed for years. The alveolar disease may result in death.
The disease occurs in most areas of the world and currently affects about one million people. In some areas of South America, Africa, and Asia up to 10% of the certain populations are affected. In 2010, it caused about 1200 deaths down from 2000 in 1990. It is classified as a neglected tropical disease and belongs to the group of diseases known as helminthiasis. It can affect other animals such as pigs, cows and horses.