Echinococcosis, or Hydatid disease, is an infection caused by tapeworms of the genus Echinococcus, a tiny tapeworm just a few millimetres long. Five species of Echinococcus have been identified which infect a wide range of domestic and wild animals. Echinococcosis is a zoonosis, a disease of animals that affects humans.
The incidence of human alveolar echinococcosis is usually < 0.5 per 100,000. However, rates of infection can range from less than 1 per 100,000 to more than 200 per 100,000 in certain rural populations that keep a close contact with domestic dogs. Over 1 million people are estimated being currently affected by echinococcosis, while the incidence in some endemic regions is more than 200 times different with non-endemic countries. The WHO is working to approve effective strategies to combat the echinococcosis.
Although data provided by countries reporting echinococcosis cases over the years demonstrates general decreasing trend of echinococcosis morbidity, strengthening echinococcosis surveillance in all countries is still an important need.