Medical Definition of Echinococcus

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Echinococcus: A tiny parasitic tapeworm. The larval stage of this tapeworm can cause human disease.

There are three forms of Echinococcus that affect humans -- E. (Echinococcus) granulosus, E. multilocularis, and E. vogeli -- and each has a different geographic distribution and tends to cause a different pattern of disease.

E. granulosus is common in areas where livestock is raised in association with dogs -- in Australia and New Zealand, Argentina and Chile, Africa, E. Europe, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean region, especially Lebanon and Greece -- and causes unilocular cysts.

E. multilocularis is found in Alpine, sub-Arctic, or Arctic regions -- including Canada, the United States, and central and northern Europe and Asia -- and causes multilocular lung disease known as alveolar hydatid disease (AHD).

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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