Combined ultrasound and serologic screening for hepatic alveolar echinococcosis in central China.

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  • 1 WHO Collaborating Centre for Prevention and Treatment of Echinococcosis, University of Franche-Comté, Besançon, France.

Alveolar echinococcosis (AE), caused by Echinococcus multilocularis, is a zoonotic helminthic disease that can mimic malignancy. In the 1970s, foci of the disease were found in central China. The aim of the present study was to estimate the prevalence of AE in humans in 2 districts of south Gansu Province, China, by use of ultrasound and Echinococcus serology. After answering an epidemiological questionnaire, 2,482 volunteers from 28 villages underwent ultrasound. Serology via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for antibody activity was performed on whole blood collected on filter paper in all subjects; on serum from subjects with an abnormal ultrasound image; and on randomly chosen subjects that either had no lesions or had atypical lesions. At least one (25.3%) abnormal ultrasound image was observed in 630 of the subjects screened. A typical lesion of progressive AE was found in 84 subjects (3.4%). Serologies were positive in 77 (96%) of 80 of patients who had lesions typical of progressive AE. Ultrasound is useful for screening for AE in endemic regions.