Echinococcosis is a disease commonly found in livestock like goat, sheep, cattle and even dogs. And this disease can easily be transmitted from these animals to human beings.
With Nigeria being a country where livestock and pets like dogs can be found in almost every home, the prevalence of echinococcosis is better imagined.
Molecular laboratory scientist at the DNA Laboratory Unit, Sickle Cell Foundation, Nigeria, Mr. Yemi Onijala, told The Point that echinococcosis can be gotten from goat, sheep or any livestock animal that is infected with the worm, and can be easily transmitted to human beings from infected livestock.
He added that people can be infected through dog faeces and herbs, if not properly cooked. “The parasite is common in dog faeces, and dogs can urinate and defecate anywhere. People can also be infected through herbs that are not properly cooked,” he said.
The scientist said symptoms of the disease include “frequent abdominal pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, coughing, among others,” adding that “the rupture of the fleet inside
can lead to allergies or immediate death.”
He added, “It is caused by tapeworm that grows in the body, which affects the liver or the lungs and can also be found in other organs of the body; but majorly the liver or lungs
is often affected.
“Because the tape worm is slow in growing, it takes a longer time before the person infected begin to feel the impact of the infection.” Onijala advised people, especially those who work in abattoirs, to observe personal hygiene and visit the hospital regularly to conduct test like imaging, x-ray or MRI scan, in order to detect on time if they have
been infected with the disease.
He said, “Although there are blood tests that can be done, it may not be always accurate like the MRI scan.
“Proper personal hygiene is necessary for people working in abattoirs and they should be doing regular medical check-ups to know on time, if they are infected with the disease.”
He said treatment of the disease can now be achieved by medication, instead of surgical operation, adding, “In the past, it used to be operated on, nowadays there are medications and modified medical procedure are frequently used and can replace the surgical operation of the fleet, and even after surgery, there is still the need for medication, because the parasite can grow back.”
Onijala concluded by saying that the best prevention is washing of hands and ensuring that food and drinks are not contaminated. The Medical Director of Stars Community Clinics, Dr. Adeolu Olusodo, told The Point that echinococcosis can be contacted through eating food or drinking water containing eggs of the parasites.
He said, “It can also be contacted through close contact with infected animals.“Animals that normally spread it to man are dogs and sheep; but it is prevented mainly by treating the infected animals.”
He explained that it is a parasitic disease of tapeworms and that tapeworm belongs to the class of animals called echinococcosis. A research titled ‘Echinococcus Granulosus: Prevalence in Dogs in Southwest Nigeria,’ conducted by Oyeduntan Adejoju Adediran,
Temitope Ubaidat Kolapo, and Emmanuel Chibuike Uwalaka, of the department of Veterinary Microbiology and Parasitology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Ibadan, Oyo State, revealed that there is presence of canine echinococcosis among dogs, especially in the rural communities.
The research noted, “It also gives a strong indication of ongoing infection in the definitive hosts and this poses the risk of human cystic hydatid disease to exposed individuals. “For a disease which the World Health Organisation has categorised as one of the most widespread parasitic diseases and also one of the most costly to be treated and prevented in terms of public health, the prevalence of 12.45 per cent is of major concern, not only because it is high, but also because the country currently has no strategic control programme to prevent a serious public health situation.”