The eggs of Echinococcus species are highly infectious to humans. A person with environmental exposure to materials potentially contaminated with Echinococcus eggs should take special precautions to prevent infection. Environmental workers in endemic areas should be regularly monitored for infection to identify subclinical infection.


Sources of infection:

(1) handling soil or plants contaminated with host carnivore feces (fox, dogs, etc.)

(2) drinking water contaminated with host carnivore feces

(3) eating wild plants contaminated with host carnivore feces

(4) handling potential hosts (carnivore carcasses, dogs), including the hair and paws


Foodstuffs affected:

(1) wild berries

(2) mushrooms

(3) low lying fruits

(4) vegetables

(5) carnivore meat


Foodstuff handling:

(1) All foodstuffs should be thoroughly washed prior to bringing into a food handling area.

(2) Foods at high risk for contamination should be either boiled or frozen.

(2a) Freezing at usual freezer temperatures (-18 to -20°C) does not kill the eggs.

(2b) Freezing needs to be maintained at -70 to -80°C for at least 2 days for E. multilocularis or for at least 4 days for E. granulosus.

(2c) Heating to 100°C kills the eggs instantaneously, while heating at 60°C requires 5 minutes. Carnivore meat should be thoroughly cooked and the core temperature needs to reach the required temperature.

(3) Foodhandling areas should be cleaned with soap and water, then straight bleach (sodium hypochlorite).


Water handling:

(1) Water should be boiled, especially if taken from surface waters that may be infected by carnivore species.


Personal hygiene:

(1) Hands in contact with soil potentially contaminated by animal species should be washed with soap and water.

(2) Potentially infected animals should be handled with disposable plastic gloves.


Animal handling:

(1) Dogs and cats should be washed with soap and water after a potential exposure.

(2) Infected animals should be isolated and treated by a veterinarian.

(3) Areas or materials contaminated by infected feces should be decontaminated (boiling water, dry heat, autoclaving, incineration, chemical disinfectants, etc.)


Serologic monitoring for serum antibodies:

(1) Persons with regular environmental exposures in endemic areas should be monitored once or twice a year.

(2) A person with a single, isolated exposure should have serologic monitoring at 1, 6, 12, and 24 months.


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