What is hydatid disease?

This is caused by the dog tapeworm which can occur in the gut of dogs. Eggs, which are passed in the dog’s stool, may be swallowed by sheep and goats, resulting in tapeworm cysts in their muscles. Other dogs can then be infected with tapeworms by eating the raw meat of these sheep or goats.

If eggs of the dog tapeworm are swallowed by humans instead, the eggs hatch in the human gut and are carried by the bloodstream to the liver or lung where they form large cysts (hydatid cysts). These large cysts may cause clinical problems (hydatid disease) and will have to be removed surgically.

Dogs should be dewormed regularly and they should not be allowed to eat raw meat, especially mutton or goat meat which is infected with the cysts of the dog tapeworm. Prevent children eating soil as it may be contaminated with dog tapeworm eggs. Always wash hands before eating. Also wash vegetables well.

Hydatid disease results when children swallow the eggs of the dog tapeworm.

Treatment is with mebendazole or albendazole daily for 6 weeks.

The dog tapeworm is Echinococcus granulosus.

The prevention, diagnosis and treatment of sandworm infection is discussed in Unit 12.

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