Echinococcus spp. are endoparasites from the class Cestoda (also called: tapeworm) that live in the intestine and brain of differing vertebrates. In their larval form, they can also infect humans and trigger echinococcosis, a potentially life-threatening infection. Particularly Echinococcus granulosus (dog tapeworm) and Echinococcus multocularis (fox tapeworm) are of medical importance.
Echinococcosis involves the liver and often also the lung where characteristic cysts are formed. They usually only cause diffuse symptoms such as upper abdominal complaints, dry cough or pressure pain, and hence often remain undetected over years. A cyst rupture may cause an anaphylactic shock.
Transmission mainly occurs via contaminated water and food.
For a successful inactivation of parasites, specific disinfectants effective against parasites are required.