First Human Case of Alveolar Echinococcosis Acquired in Quebec
The Direction de santé publique des Laurentides has just confirmed a case of alveolar echinococcosis in a child who was diagnosed in the fall of 2018. There is every reason to believe that this case was acquired in Quebec. This first mention of this disease for the province would confirm the presence of this parasite in Quebec.
Alveolar echinococcosis is caused by the cestode (flatworm) Echinococcus multilocularis. This adult state of this cestode is found in the intestines of wild canids such as foxes and coyotes. Intermediate hosts become infected by ingesting food contaminated with feces containing the eggs of the parasite. The larval forms of this cestode will develop in the organs (especially the liver) of the definitive host where they can cause severe damages. The disease is rare in humans but can be potentially fatal.
Human cases of alveolar echinococcosis are well described in Europe where this parasite is endemic. A few cases have also been reported in parts of western Canada where the presence of this parasite in wildlife is well documented. This parasite has not yet been detected in wild animals in Quebec. That being said, little study has been done on this subject so far because Quebec was believed to be exempt. Echinococcus multilocularis was recently documented in southern Ontario suggesting an expansion of the parasite range to the east.
For more information on this case, please see “Flash Vigie, bulletin d’information mensuel de surveillance en protection de la santé publique” (in French) on the following web site: