FAQs on Echinococcus multilocularis and Alveolar Echinococcosis

Echinococcus multilocularis

What is Echinococcus multilocularis?

My dog has being diagnosed with an intestinal infection from Echinococcus multilocularis, what does it mean for its health ?

  • It is important to treat it immediately.
  • Likely, this is not affecting its health.
  • Rarely, it may develop canine Alveolar Echinococcosis, a fatal disease in dogs. If treated early, it can be cured. (recommended reading).

My dog has being diagnosed with an intestinal infection from Echinococcus multilocularis, what does it mean for my health and my family’s?

  • Your dog is (or has been) potentially shedding parasite eggs thus contaminating the household and its surroundings.
  • You should discuss this with your Family Doctor.

Can my dog get infected from Echinococcus multilocularis by eating canid faeces?

  • It cannot develop the intestinal infection that is the one that will make it shedding eggs and being infectious for you and your family.
  • It could theoretically develop canine Alveolar Echinococcosis, the fatal disease which could be deadly for the dog, but that does not represent a risk for you and your family as the dog would not shed parasite eggs.

I fear that my dog has been infected by Echinococcus multilocularis

  • Go and talk to your Veterinarian. She will know what to recommend.

Alveolar Echinococcosis (AE)

What is Alveolar Echinococcosis?

  • Alveolar Echinococcosis is the disease caused by the multiplication of Echinococcus multilocularis larvae into one or more organs, more often the liver.
  • This multiplication of the larval stage of the parasite causes tumor-like tissue lesions.

What are the symptoms of Alveolar Echinococcosis (AE) in people?

  • At advanced stages, AE may present with malaise, fatigue, weight loss, right upper quadrant discomfort and/or jaundice.
  • Early stages of AE are often asymptomatic.
  • The infection can be detected at early stages as incidental findings on abdominal imaging.

I fear I have been infected by Echinococcus multilocularis

  • Go and talk to your Family Doctor. She will know what to recommend.

How can I prevent infections by Echinococcus multilocularis to my dogs and my family?

  • Make sure you discuss with your Veterinarian adequate deworming protocol if your dogs are at risk of infection (eg, they roam free and they prey upon rodents).
  • Wash thoroughly your own fresh produce and berries before eating them.
  • Wash thoroughly your hands after handling soil or animals that might be contaminated with Echinococcus multilocularis eggs.
  • Pick up faeces after your dog. This will reduce the spread of the parasite eggs and thus transmission in the environment.

Who is at risk of Alveolar Echinococcosis?

  • Owners of dogs free to roam and eat rodents.
  • people who eat fresh produce exposed to fecal contamination from dogs and wild canids in areas where Echinococcus multilocularis is present.
  • Professionals handling wild and domestic canids (eg, veterinarians, animal health technicians, trappers, hunters,wildlife biologists).
  • Immuno-suppressed people belonging to the above mentioned categories are particularly at risk.

How do people get infected with Echinococcus multilocularis?

  • Eating fruits and vegetables contaminated with eggs is believed to be the most common mode of infection.
  • Handling contaminated soil (e.g. children playing outside and not washing hands before eating).
  • Ingesting the eggs from an infected animal’s fur or areas in the household which have been contaminated with parasite eggs. The eggs are microscopic and not visible to the human eye.

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