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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1998 Oct;59(4):620-7.

Human cystic echinococcosis in a Uruguayan community: a sonographic, serologic, and epidemiologic study.

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  • 1FundaciĆ³n San Antonio de Padua, Sarandi del Yi, Durazno, Uruguay.


A prevalence and transmission study of human cystic echinococcosis (CE), due to infection with the dog tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus, was undertaken in the village of La Paloma in central Uruguay. The human population was registered and screened for CE by abdominal ultrasound scan as well as a number of serologic tests. Dogs were screened for E. granulosus infection by arecoline purgation as well as specific coproantigen testing. The total prevalence of human CE (new cases and those with a previous history) was 5.6% (64 of 1,149); 3.6% (40) of the cases were new ultrasound detected asymptomatic cases (mean age = 45 years). Age prevalence increased from 1.1% in the 4-6-year-old group to > 11% in the > 60-year-old group; the 20-29-year-old group had a significantly higher CE rate of 7.4%, compared with younger and older age groups, and there was no difference between sexes. A CE rate of 3.9% (20 of 514) was also recorded by ultrasound for new cases in the population residing outside the village. Most of the hydatid cysts were located in the liver presenting as either univesicular cysts or a solid mass, and of those 71% and 63%, respectively, with such cyst presentations were seropositive against E. granulosus cyst fluid antigens. Two of eight individuals who were filter paper blood spot seropositive, but ultrasound scan negative, were subsequently diagnosed respectively with pulmonary hydatidosis after radiography, and hepatic hydatidosis after computed tomography scan. Of 36 households with a CE patient, 32 were single cases while four households each harbored two CE cases. This did not represent a clustered distribution within families (23 of 117). Almost 20% of the dogs from La Paloma were found infected with E. granulosus after purge examination, with a mean worm number of 67 (range = 1-1,020). An additional eight dogs that were purge negative were Echinococcus coproantigen positive. The study showed that human CE is highly endemic in Uruguay, with one of the highest local prevalence rates in the world. Transmission appears to occur readily within well-developed towns, as well as on rural sheep ranches. Mass screening by ultrasound scanning with confirmatory serologic testing is an effective approach to case detection at the community level.

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