Epidemiology of alveolar echinococcosis in southern Cantal, Auvergne region, France

J Helminthol. 2004 Sep;78(3):237-42. doi: 10.1079/joh2004242.


Alveolar echinococcosis (AE) is a helminth zoonosis which is encountered only in the northern hemisphere. In central France, the Auvergne region represents the most western and southern extension of this helminthiasis. In 1999, a human case of AE was diagnosed in the southern part of the Cantal department, where AE was supposed absent, and an epidemiological survey was subsequently carried out. The transmission of the zoonosis in the sylvatic and peridomestic definitive hosts was studied, as well as that in the rodent and human intermediate hosts. Eleven red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were shot, and 50 fox faecal deposits were collected. Twelve farm dogs had their faeces taken by rectal touch, and four were checked after arecoline purgation. Optical detection of Echinococcus multilocularis worms was achieved on fox intestines after scraping, and also on dog stools after arecoline therapy. Coproantigen ELISA assay was performed for the 11 scraping products, for the 50 fox faeces, and for the 12 dog faecal samples. No adult AE agent was observed by microscopy, and the ELISA assay yielded positive results in one of 11 fox intestines, one of 50 fox faeces, and 2 of 12 dog faecal samples. Twenty-five small mammals were trapped, of which 19 were Arvicola terrestris water voles. One rodent liver exhibited a hepatic lesion consistent with AE. An epidemiological questionnaire was completed in 85 human volunteers, who were also serologically tested for AE. Only one (the case's husband) exhibited a Western-blotting pattern indicative of a low-grade AE infection. The results of this preliminary study suggested a slow AE extension to the south of Cantal department from the northern focus.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Helminth / analysis
  • Arvicolinae / parasitology
  • Disease Vectors
  • Dogs
  • Echinococcosis, Hepatic / epidemiology*
  • Echinococcosis, Hepatic / transmission
  • Echinococcosis, Hepatic / veterinary
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Foxes / parasitology
  • France
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Liver / parasitology*
  • Male
  • Mammals / parasitology
  • Parasite Egg Count
  • Prevalence
  • Rats
  • Zoonoses / epidemiology*
  • Zoonoses / transmission


  • Antigens, Helminth