Risk factors associated with human cystic echinococcosis in Florida, Uruguay: results of a mass screening study using ultrasound and serology.

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  • 1 Instituto de Higiene e Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la Republica, Montevideo, Uruguay.

Sonographic evidence of asymptomatic Echinococcus granulosus lesions in the liver was found in 156 of 9,515 persons in the Department of Florida, Uruguay. The sensitivity of ELISA and latex agglutination serology compared with ultrasound was 47.6% and 28.1%, respectively, and specificity was > 85%. There was a significant positive association between positive sonography and a personal history of previous but treated Echinococcus infection while those that were seropositive but ultrasound-negative were significantly more likely to have a personal history of infection or a history of infection in their family. Prevalence of infection increased significantly with age. There was no correlation between echinococcosis and dog ownership or home slaughter of sheep but offal disposal was important, with an increased prevalence of infection of 3.2%, 2.8%, and 3.1%, respectively, in persons feeding offal to dogs or burying or burning it compared with a prevalence of 0.8-1.5% in those using other methods of disposal. Almost half the population, when questioned, seemed to have sound knowledge about E. granulosus and described correct treatment of E. granulosus in dogs but this did not affect prevalence. There was a significant positive association between infection and the presence of a fenced fruit/vegetable garden and use of rural waters, particularly the cachimba (a small dam) and the aljibe (a cistern or tank) that collect rainwater from the ground surface and roofs, respectively.