It’s a zoonotic disease caused by Echinococcus spp., zoonotic parasites, that can be passed between humans and animals. Recent studies have shown that Echinococcosis is a problem in North America. Dogs, other canids, and even cats are critical in zoonotic transmission due to their close relationships with humans. Infection with Echinococcus spp. seems to be growing, reemerging, and geographically expanding. At present, two species of Echinococcus have recognized in North America: Echinococcus multilocularis that can infect both dogs and cats, and Echinococcus granulosus that is only known to infect dogs and wild canids. Younger dogs are more frequently infected with Echinococcus spp. than older dogs. Infections with Echinococcus spp. have been reported in Canada, Alaska, Midwestern states, Montana and even Virginia. Dogs and cats can be infected with echinococcosis by eating infected mice, squirrels, rabbits, or other small animals. Cystic echinococcosis caused by E. granulosus is the most common form of the disease in domestic animals and humans. E. granulosus is developed in the liver and lungs and is associated with impaired organ function that leads to surgery as the only effective treatment.
E. multilocularis causes alveolar echinococcosis. This parasite is developed primarily in the liver and then progressively invades other host organs. Alveolar echinococcosis is less common than cystic echinococcosis, less frequently found in North America but it is a very serious disease that is more difficult to treat. Dogs with alveolar echinococcosis often have a poor prognosis. E. multilocularis causes most severe and lethal parasitic diseases in humans. Infected pets can be asymptomatic for certain periods of time but can have potential effects on human health. Thus, diagnosing Echinococcus spp. is very important and requires specialized testing. Detecting Echinococcus spp. infections in dogs and cats is difficult due to some testing limitations. Therefore, our reference laboratory offers a new serological advanced test to diagnose Echinococcosis. This test enables differentiation between cystic and alveolar echinococcosis, caused by E. granulosusand E. multilocularis respectively. Since our dogs and cats are closely related to us, it is recommended that individuals regularly deworm their pets, test them on time and practice good hygiene to reduce the health risk to both them and you. Your health and the health of your pets is in your hands!