Table of contents:
- Main symptoms
- How to confirm the diagnosis
- Life cycle of Echinococcus granulosus
- How the treatment is done
- How to prevent hydatid disease
Hydatid disease is an infectious disease caused by the parasite Echinococcus granulosus that can be transmitted to humans through ingestion of water or food contaminated with feces from a dog infected by the parasite.
In most cases, hydatid disease takes years for the first symptoms to appear, and when they occur, they are usually related to where the parasite is present in the body, most often in the lung and liver. Thus, the symptoms that are usually related to hydatid disease are shortness of breath, frequent nausea, belly swelling or excessive tiredness.
Although there is treatment with antiparasitic drugs, some cases need to be treated with surgery to remove the parasites that are growing in the body and, therefore, the best way to eliminate the disease is to prevent infection with simple measures such as deworming everyone domestic dogs, wash your hands before eating and prepare food correctly.
The symptoms of hydatid disease may vary according to where the hydatid cyst is formed, and there may be different symptoms, the main ones being:
- Liver: is the main form of hydatid disease and is characterized by the presence of symptoms such as constant indigestion, abdominal discomfort and belly swelling;
- Lungs: is the second most common form of the disease and produces symptoms such as shortness of breath, easy tiredness and coughing up phlegm;
- Brain: happens when the parasite develops in the brain, leading to more serious symptoms such as high fever, fainting or coma;
- Bones: is a rare form of the disease that can remain asymptomatic for several years, but can also result in necrosis or spontaneous fractures.
In addition, when the hydatid cyst ruptures, other complications can arise that can put the person's life at risk, such as pulmonary edema and anaphylactic shock, which is a type of severe allergic reaction. Understand what anaphylactic shock is and how to treat it.
How to confirm the diagnosis
The parasite develops slowly, which means that the disease can remain asymptomatic for several years, making diagnosis difficult. However, the presence of the parasite can be identified through routine tests, such as X-rays, CT scans or ultrasounds, as the parasite forms cysts that can remain lodged in various organs.
Thus, the diagnosis of hydatid disease is made by the infectious disease specialist or general practitioner through the evaluation of signs and symptoms that may arise, imaging and laboratory tests, with Casoni's reaction being the laboratory test used to confirm the diagnosis of hydatid disease, as it identifies specific antibodies in the person's body.
Life cycle of Echinococcus granulosus
The definitive host of Echinococcus granulosus is the dog, that is, it is in the dog that the adult worm develops, whose eggs are released into the environment through feces, contaminating food, children's hands and pastures, for example.
Eggs can remain viable in the soil for several months or years and are normally consumed by pigs, cattle, goats or sheep, where hydatid cysts develop in the liver and lungs, which can be consumed by dogs, mainly in places where animals are raised for slaughter.
This disease is more frequent in children due to direct contact with dogs, for example, because the eggs can be adhered to the fur. In addition, contamination can occur through the consumption of contaminated food and water, allowing eggs to enter the body, transforming into an oncosphere in the stomach, affecting blood and lymphatic circulation and then reaching the liver, for example.
When it reaches the liver, lung, brain or bones, the oncosphere transforms from a hydatid cyst in a slow process that can last 6 months or more.
How the treatment is done
The treatment is carried out with the objective of eliminating the parasites from the person's body and eliminating the parasite's cysts. parasite.
In some cases, surgical removal of the cyst may also be indicated, especially when it is very bulky and is present in an easily accessible location. In this way, it is possible to avoid the rupture of the cyst and the emergence of complications.
How to prevent hydatid disease
Echinococcus granulosus infection prevention can be done through simple measures, such as:
- Deworm all dogs, to decrease the likelihood of contagion;
- Drink only treated water;
- Wash your hands after coming into contact with dogs;
- Do not handle food without washing your hands;
- Always wash kitchen utensils after using them with raw vegetables.
In addition, it is important to avoid consuming raw vegetables from unknown sources, and when ingesting, make sure they have been properly sanitized, in addition to washing your hands whenever you come into contact with animals and before preparing food.