Echinococcus granulosus infection in humans and livestock in the Coquimbo region, north-central Chile

Vet Parasitol. 2010 Apr 19;169(1-2):102-10. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2009.12.009. Epub 2009 Dec 21.


Cyst echinococcosis (CE) is one of the most important zoonosis in Chile, where studies have focussed mainly in moist southern regions. The present study was conducted to determine the prevalence of cystic echinococcosis (CE) in livestock and humans in the semiarid Coquimbo region in north-central Chile. A review of all surgical cases of CE in humans reported in the Elqui, Limarí and Choapa provinces in Coquimbo region for the period comprising 1995-2006 was obtained. In addition, a retrospective study of CE covering condemnation records from slaughterhouses of these provinces from the same period was carried out. The surgical incidence of CE in humans ranged between 2.3 and 8.5 cases per 10(5) people, with more cases reported in provinces with a higher percentage of rural inhabitants (Limarí and Choapa). A total of 174,034 cattle, 22,208 goats, 35,404 sheep, 25,355 swine and 9391 equines were examined during the period. Higher prevalence of CE was detected in cattle (24%), followed by swine (14%), sheep (11%), goats (6%), and equines (9%). More cases of CE in livestock were also found in provinces with higher rural population. The overall trend of the prevalence of CE for each livestock species across years was a significant downward one, except for swine in Elqui and sheep and swine in Choapa. Cattle showed higher prevalence of CE in liver in Elqui, in kidney in Limarí and in lungs in Choapa. Swine showed similar prevalence by organs in all provinces. Sheep showed higher prevalence of CE in liver in Elqui and Limarí and lower prevalence in Choapa. Goats presented higher prevalence of CE in kidney in all provinces, and equines had higher prevalence of CE in liver in the provinces where animals were slaughtered. Further studied are needed to assess whether these differences are due to different strains affecting these species or due to ecological factors. When analyzing the CE prevalence of each species within each province, a negative correlation between prevalence of CE in goats and rainfall in the Limarí province was found. This could be attributed to changes in management practices and/or ecological factors. This study shows that surveillance of CE at slaughterhouses combined with the analyses of incidence in humans can be used to detect areas with a higher risk of infection. Improvements in record-keeping of infected animals at slaughterhouses are proposed in order to trace back farms where infection was most likely acquired.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Chile / epidemiology
  • Echinococcosis / epidemiology*
  • Echinococcosis / pathology*
  • Echinococcosis / surgery
  • Echinococcus granulosus / physiology*
  • Goats
  • Horses
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sheep
  • Swine