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Hydatid disease

Alternate name: Echinococcosis, hydatidosis

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Fact sheet - Health conditions directory

Hydatid disease (also known as hydatidosis or echinococcosis) is a potentially serious, sometimes fatal, condition caused by cysts containing the larval stages of the Echinococcus granulosus (E. granulosus) tapeworm (Dog Tapeworm). Adult E. granulosus tapeworms infect dogs and other canines, and the tapeworm eggs are shed in faeces of these infected animals. People become infected by ingesting (swallowing) the eggs. This can occur via hand-to-mouth transfer after handling dogs or objects contaminated with the eggs, or from consuming contaminated food or water.

The larval form of the tapeworm may lodge in various body sites where they form a fluid-filled sac known as a hydatid cyst. The cysts contain immature forms of the tapeworm and can increase in size from 5–10 cm or more over a period of time. While some cysts may die, others can remain alive for many years. Cysts also contain 'daughter cysts' which, if released, may spread to other areas of the body. Hydatid disease occurs worldwide and is especially common in grazing areas. Notification of hydatid infection in humans has not been required in Queensland since 2008. From 2000 to 2008 there were between 4 -13 notifications each year.

Last updated: 5 June 2023

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