Iran is an important endemic focus of cystic hydatid disease (CHD) where several species of intermediate host are commonly infected with Echinococcus granulosus. Isolates of E. granulosus were collected from humans and other animals from different geographical areas of Iran and characterized using both DNA (PCR-RFLP of ITS1) and morphological criteria (metacestode rostellar hook dimensions). The sheep and camel strains/genotypes were shown to occur in Iran. The sheep strain was shown to be the most common genotype of E. granulosus affecting sheep, cattle, goats and occasionally camels. The majority of camels were infected with the camel genotype as were 3 of 33 human cases. This is the first time that cases of CHD in humans have been identified in an area where a transmission cycle for the camel genotype exists. In addition, the camel genotype was found to cause infection in both sheep and cattle. Results also demonstrated that both sheep and camel strains can be readily differentiated on the basis of hook morphology alone.
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