Echinococcus granulosus is a tiny tapeworm that parasitizes the small intestine of canids, mainly dogs, which act as definitive hosts for the parasite. Infected dogs are the main source of infection to humans and livestock which act as intermediate hosts resulting in hydatid disease condition. E. granulosus is widely distributed in many parts of the world, and is very common in North African countries. In Libya, the rate of infection with echinococcosis in dogs was reported to be lower than 7 to 80% in stray dogs, 34.8 to 60% in sheep/guard dogs and 7.7 to 21.6% in farm/house dogs. This data fulfills the world health organization (WHO) criteria and suggests that the incidence of infection with echinococcosis/ hydatidosis in some parts of the country can be reaching the level of hyper endemic. Diagnosis of echinococcosis in infected dogs can be performed by isolating the parasite from their faeces or from the contents of their small intestine after necropsy. Recent developments in immunodiagnostic assays for echinococcosis in dogs have been described. Public health and risk factors as well as ways of hydatid disease treatment and various control strategies, including the use of veterinary vaccines, have also been discussed.
Key words: Dogs, Echinococcus granulosus, prevalence, diagnosis, treatment, risk factors
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