An Active Intermediate Host Role for Man in the Life Cycle of Echinococcus Granulosus in Turkana, Kenya

Calum N. L. MacphersonImperial College of Science and Technology, Department of Pure and Applied Biology, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BB, England

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Hydatid material removed at operation from 97 Turkana was compared for fertility and viability with hydatid material removed from camels, cattle, sheep, and goats. The results showed that the human material was extremely fertile and viable, as was material from the camels, goats, and sheep. Cattle cysts were invariably sterile, and the protoscoleces, when present, were comparatively less viable. The high incidence and fertility of hydatid cysts in the Turkana, together with the lack of burial customs thus allowing dogs to have ready access to infected human corpses, means that the Turkana are potential biological participants in the cyclic transmission of Echinococcus granulosus in this region. This is a unique situation, for elsewhere in the world man is regarded as an accidental host who plays no role in the parasite's life cycle.

Author Notes

Present address: African Medical and Research Foundation, P.O. Box 30125, Nairobi, Kenya.