What is the rare and dangerous fox disease?

Very rare but very dangerous. Fox disease, also called echinococcosis, is transmitted to humans if they accidentally ingest the eggs of a tiny worm laid in the liver of certain animals. The first symptoms appear between 5 and 15 years after contagion.

Fox disease is an infection caused by a parasite found in the feces of cats, dogs and, more often, foxes. Indeed, once infected, these animals eliminate the eggs through the droppings, especially the urine and the faeces. But this infection can be transmitted to humans and can be fatal.

In France, there are between 30 and 50 new cases per year and these are more particularly present in the east of the country, namely Burgundy-Franche-Comté and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

If the symptoms of this disease appear a long time after the ingestion of the eggs present in the animal waste, it is because the development of the larvae is long. The latter develop in the liver to form a kind of tumor, but they can also colonize other organs such as the lungs, the brain or the muscles.

Nevertheless, the pains, they are accentuated during its evolution. Among the warning signs, there is excruciating pain in the right side of the abdomen, the appearance of jaundice and an enlarged liver.

Two types of treatments and recommendations to follow

There are two types of treatments. The first is surgical treatment through the removal of parasitic cysts. The second is medical treatment that must be taken for life. This stops the development of the parasite but does not kill it.

However, certain behaviors can prevent contracting echinococcosis. It is first advisable to wash your hands after touching your pet and to properly fence your vegetable garden to prevent foxes from gaining access to it. Then, it is strongly recommended to thoroughly wash and cook the fruits and vegetables harvested in the wild or in the forest. Then, it is possible to use single-use gloves and a mask to handle infected animals. Finally, it is useful to deworm your dogs and cats, at least twice a year, with a drug active against the parasite.

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