WHO Describes Echinococcosis as “Considerable Public Health Problem”

Below is a portion of the “Preface” of the World Health Organization’s Manual. This disease is important enough to WHO and to the World Organization for Animal Health that even the title describes it as a “Public Health Problem of Global Concern.”

This “Manual” relates information about the disease, much of it in areas away from the United States, but the concern grows in this country as more and more wolves disburse throughout other areas of the country increasing the threat of the spread of infectious diseases and harmful parasites. Please bear in mind that over the past near 100 years there have been insignificant populations of wild wolves in America and thus the threat of the spread of E.g, from wolves, has been minimal, but grows as the number of wolves grows. Places around the globe that have always had wolves have dealt with human Echinococcusis for centuries. Because the United States has not, I suppose this has been reason for many, including the professionals we are told will protect us and those that are in charge of overseeing the management of wild canines, such as the wolf, to downplay the real and serious threat of human hydatidosis.

“The second edition of the WHO Guidelines for Surveillance, Prevention and Control of Echinococcosis/Hydatidosis, published in 1984, was focused on diagnostic methods and control measures available to combat this disease in humans and animals. These guidelines were very well received throughout the world and represented a valuable source of information for medical and Veterinary Services of many countries. Since then the understanding of the epidemiology of echinococcosis has been greatly improved, new diagnostic techniques for both humans and animals have been developed, progress has been made in the treatment of human echinococcosis, and new prevention strategies have emerged with the development of a vaccine against Echinococcus granulosus in intermediate hosts.

In spite of significant progress achieved in the field of research and control, human cystic echinococcosis, caused by Echinococcus granulosus, remains a considerable public health problem in many regions of the world. Ultrasound surveys of populations at risk have shown that cystic echinococcosis is more prevalent than previously anticipated in many endemic regions. To date, disease transmission has been reduced or interrupted in some limited areas only, especially on islands, such as Cyprus, New Zealand and Tasmania. In continental situations, however, E. granulosus control is more difficult, often less effective, is costly and requires sustained efforts over many decades.

Recent studies in Europe, Asia (i.e. People’s Republic of China and Japan) and North America have shown that E. multilocularis, the causative agent of human alveolar echinococcosis, is more widely distributed in the northern hemisphere than previously understood. Alveolar echinococcosis, althrough rare, represents a considerable public health burden as the infection is lethal in most untreated patients and treatment is very costly. In addition, in Central and South America, cases of polycystic echinococcosis in humans, caused by E. vogeli and E. oligarthrus, occur in apparently increasing numbers.”

Download PDF of WHO report.