Indexed on: 13 Sep '08Published on: 13 Sep '08Published in: EcoHealth
Cystic echinococcosis (CE) and alveolar echinococcosis (AE) are highly significant infectious diseases occurring worldwide and caused by metacestodes of tapeworms Echinococcus granulosus and E. multilocularis, respectively. Both human CE and AE have highest prevalence rates in western and northwestern China. Livestock is the main intermediate host of E. granulosus, and wild small mammal are the main intermediate hosts of E. multilocularis. Since they range freely in pastoral areas, prey on wild small mammals and offal of livestock after slaughter, and have close relationships with humans, domestic dogs are the most important definitive host of both Echinococcus spp. with the highest risk of transmitting CE and AE to humans. Pastoralism is the occupation with the highest risk of being infected with the both kinds of echinococcosis due to the proximity of livestock, dogs, and wildlife host species. In this review, we summarize the epidemiology of human echinococcosis, the situation of parasite transmission in animal hosts, and possible transmission patterns in China. In addition, human activities and their potential influence on the transmission of echinococcosis are also discussed.