Echinococcus spp.: Tapeworms that Pose a Danger to Both Animals and Humans – a Review

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Abstract

Species of the genus Echinococcus (Cestoda; Taeniidae) are minute tapeworms of carnivores. Their larvae are known as hydatids (metacestode), which proliferate asexually in various mammals. Like the majority of cestodes, Echinococcus spp. require two different host species to complete their life cycle. Definitive hosts harbouring the adult cestodes in the small intestine are exclusively carnivores of the Canidae and Felidae families. A wide range of mammal species including humans is susceptible to infection by the metacestode of Echinococcus spp., which develops in their viscera. The disease, caused by species of the genus Echinococcus, is called echinococcosis, and it is one of the most dangerous zoonoses in the world. The traditional species Echinococcus granulosus and Echinococcus multilocularis are agents of significant diseases due to the high number of cases and the wide geographical species range. The taxonomy of the genus is controversial; in the current state of ongoing complex revisions, the agent of cystic echinococcosis E. granulosus sensu lato is divided into five species (E. granulosus sensu stricto, E. felidis, E. equinus, E. ortleppi, E. canadensis), in addition to the agents of alveolar echinococcosis (E. multilocularis, E. shiquicus) and polycystic/unicystic echinococcosis (E. vogeli, E. oligarthrus). Here we provide an overview of the current situation, which continues to develop.

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