Is there echinococcosis in West Africa? A refugee from Niger with a liver cyst



Angheben A, Mariconti M, Degani M, Gobbo M, Palvarini L, Gobbi F, Brunetti E, Tamarozzi F.


Parasit Vectors. 2017 May 11;10(1):232. doi: 10.1186/s13071-017-2169-6.


BACKGROUND: Italy is presently facing an increase in immigration from sub-Saharan Africa through the Mediterranean Sea. Case reports of human cystic echinococcosis (CE) have been reported from most sub-Saharan countries. Therefore, an increase in the number of patients with CE coming from these areas in the Italian and European centers for infectious diseases is expected. Unfortunately, the epidemiology of CE in sub-Saharan countries is poorly known, which makes clinical suspicion and diagnosis of such infection difficult in patients coming from these areas. RESULTS: Here we report a case of hepatic CE in a patient from Niger who arrived in Italy through Libya and visited in a Tropical Medicine referral center in Northern Italy. The parasite was identified molecularly as the G6 “camel” strain of Echinococcus granulosus (E. canadensis). The diagnosis and management of a chronic and clinically complex infection like CE in such situation is difficult. Only 40 cases of CE from Niger have been reported; of these, 75% had extra-hepatic localization. To our knowledge, no strain characterization of human isolates from Niger has been reported so far. The CE cyst of the patient was in CE3a stage, indicating active transmission from the area in which the patient came. However, prevalence data from Niger, and from any other country in West Africa, are almost inexistent. CONCLUSIONS: We argue that population epidemiology surveys with ultrasound are warranted in Sahelian countries, including Niger. These studies could improve the knowledge of CE epidemiology, provide health authorities with important information for public health interventions targeting this zoonosis, and shed light on any difference between tissue tropism and clinical manifestations caused by the different E. granulosus strains.

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Link/DOI: 10.1186/s13071-017-2169-6