Seroepidemiologic screening of Echinococcus multilocularis infection in a European area endemic for alveolar echinococcosis

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1994 Dec;51(6):837-46. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.1994.51.837.


In a serologic survey for Echinococcus multilocularis infection, we screened sera from 7,884 subjects from the Doubs Departement in France, an area endemic for alveolar echinococcosis (AE) of the liver. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) with a highly species-specific antigen (Em2) and an E. multilocularis crude antigen (Emc) was used for screening. An evaluation of the cost/benefit relationship of this screening, followed by therapeutic management of patients, was made and compared with the actual cost of the follow-up and treatment of the disease in symptomatic cases in this endemic area. Antibody reactions to Em2 and/or Emc made possible the detection of eight asymptomatic clinical cases (seroprevalence averaging 1/1,000), with typical lesions of active AE revealed by abdominal ultrasonography and computed tomography. All were seropositive using the Emc ELISA but two were seronegative using the Em2 ELISA. In five additional seropositive cases, the radiologic investigations revealed small calcified lesions similar to the lesions of abortive AE previously found in Alaska. The cost of this serologic screening program per screened subject and per diagnosed case averaged 50.00 French Francs (FF) (U.S. $8.60) and 60,000.00 FF (U.S. $10,909.00), respectively. The cost of diagnosis, follow-up and treatment of the patients was 5,086.00 FF (U.S. $929.00) per patient per month in the case of diseases diagnosed by the screening program and 7,086.00 FF (U.S. $1,288.00) per patient per month for patients with symptomatic AE. This survey indicates a high prevalence of AE in the target area; it confirms the long latency period of the larval growth in human AE and shows that abortive AE is present in Europe. The use of both the Emc and Em2 ELISAs seems to be better than using the Em2 ELISA alone. The cost of the hospitalization and treatment of the eight screened patients would appear to be relatively high. Even though two of them were asymptomatic, they had very severe forms of the disease. In fact, the total cost was much lower than the actual cost of the disease when diagnosed from clinical symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Helminth / blood*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Echinococcosis, Hepatic / economics
  • Echinococcosis, Hepatic / epidemiology*
  • Echinococcosis, Hepatic / therapy
  • Echinococcus / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • France / epidemiology
  • Hepatectomy
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation / economics
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / economics
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Population
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies


  • Antibodies, Helminth