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J Hepatol. 2011 Nov;55(5):1025-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2011.02.018. Epub 2011 Feb 25.

Clinical features and evolution of alveolar echinococcosis in France from 1982 to 2007: results of a survey in 387 patients.

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TheMA, UMR CNRS 6049, Université de Franche-Comté, 25030 Besançon, France.



Alveolar echinococcosis (AE) is a rare disease in humans, caused by the larval stage of the fox tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis.


We present here 387 detailed AE cases diagnosed in France from 1982 to 2007 actively identified by a retrospective survey performed in 1997-1998 and prospectively thereafter.


Male:female ratio was 1.03 and mean age 57.8 years at time of diagnosis. Among the 362 complete files (including 347 non dead-out and 15 dead-out lesions), 73% of the patients were symptomatic at first admittance. Among them, 83% presented with clinical patterns evocative either of a digestive or a hepatic disorder. Other symptomatic patients presented with erratic clinical pictures, generally due to metastasis or extra-hepatic location of the parasite. Except for a few patients with particularly severe AE who died shortly after the diagnosis, most patients were treated using benzimidazoles. Their mortality tends to merge with that of the general French population, matched by sex, age, and calendar year. This study also highlights an unexpectedly high frequency of blood-tied family cases (13% of patients submitted to a specific questionnaire).


Even though the broad set of clinical features provoked by E. multilocularis makes AE a potential diagnostic trap for many physicians, our study revealed an improvement of its prognosis. However, as shown by our findings about the frequency of family cases, there is still a need for studies aimed at better describing this uncommon parasitic disease.

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