People usually become infected by accidentally swallowing the tapeworm eggs passed in the dog faeces. It is said that a human act as an intermediate host in the same way as a sheep, horse or kangaroo. This is followed by the travelling of eggs through the bloodstream, lodged in organs and forming watery cysts full of tapeworm heads. This is known as hydatid disease or echinococcosis. Hydatid disease is not a communicable disease and is not passed by person-to-person contact.
The term ‘tapeworm’ can be defined as a group of parasitic worms that live in the gut of animals, including humans. They can be caused when there is consumption of raw or undercooked animal products that contain worm larvae also humans can become infested after close contact with animals like cats and dogs. However, a person coming in contact with the faeces of an infected dog is more vulnerable to hydatid disease. It lead to the formation of cysts in the liver and lungs.
Symptoms of Hydatid Disease
The symptoms of the disease depends on the affected organ. However, most commonly affected organ is the liver at the same time kidneys, brain and lungs are also sometimes prone to the diseases. In the rarest of the rare cases, hydatid cysts may form in the thyroid gland or heart or within the bone. It causes long-time infection which sometimes takes a month or even years to subside. Also, at times there are no symptoms which makes it difficult to get diagnosed.
8 Symptoms of Hydatid Disease
- Stomach upset
- Weight loss
- Swollen abdomen
- Blood or the fluid from a ruptured cyst – may be coughed up
Hydatid disease can be life-threatening if not taken any medical treatment, causing an organ failure or a cyst may rupture and cause a serious allergic reaction.
Diagnosis of Hydatid Disease
The first step to test the disease is through the developing symptoms i.e. physical examination along with examining by some medical tests and medical history of the patient. This also includes x-ray examination, ultrasound, CT scan, MRI scan of the affected area.
There are some additional medical tests like blood, urine, sputum, faeces or other bodily fluids if a burst hydatid cyst is suspected. At this stage, it is mandatory to go for a hydatid cyst treatment.
Treatment of Hydatid Disease
Hydatid disease treatment involves surgery as the only option suitable. However, there is a potential risk that a hydatid cyst may rupture and spread tapeworm heads throughout the patient’s body which make the whole body infected and results in many complications.
In order to reduce this risk, the doctor provides a combination of drugs in conjunction with surgery. The consumption of drugs helps to destroy the remaining tapeworm heads. However, the disease is redundant by nature and recur again demanding for the treatment.
Preventive Measures for Hydatid Disease
5 Do’s To Prevent Hydatid Disease;
- Control the tapeworm infection in your dog.
- Take your dog to vet for a regular checkup.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect the kennel and surrounding area of your dog.
- Wash your hands before consuming anything.
- Only feed your dog with commercially prepared dog food.