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Beware of the vegetables in the garden!

In our countryside, many people have a small garden. But beware of your vegetables if they are not cooked or at least thoroughly washed! Alveolar echinococcosis is a parasitic disease transmitted to humans through the accidental ingestion of parasite eggs released in fox and dog droppings.

Indeed, foxes, increasingly urban, come to our gardens and can dump their needs there... but also your dog, if it hunts the vole, can also bring you the fatal bug! This one, called Echinococcus multilocularis, is adapted to resist the vagaries of the climate and persists in the soil for several months. So you don’t just get infected when you go for a walk in the forest and eat wild strawberries!

The larva of the parasite develops mainly in the liver. Symptoms appear many years after infestation and are non-specific (abdominal pain, jaundice). Treatment consists of surgery and/or long-term antiparasitic medication. However, the risk of developing the disease is extremely low and only 40 new cases are reported per year in France. It is estimated that only 1 in 100 people who ingest eggs of the parasite will develop the disease.
To reduce the risk, the best thing to do is to fence off your garden, worm your dog regularly and wash your fruit and vegetables thoroughly, bearing in mind that only cooking them at a temperature of >70°C will eliminate all risks. Freezing is not enough to eliminate the parasite’s eggs, which are designed to withstand our cold winters.

The CNR-E, an aid to the control and evaluation of the disease

The National Reference Centre for Echinococcosis (CNR-E), hosted by the CHU Jean-Minjoz in Besançon and the Chrono-environment laboratory (UMR CNRS-University of Franche-Comté) carry out field studies to better understand the dissemination of the parasite in the environment, and clinical studies to help doctors in the diagnosis and therapeutic follow-up of patients. The CNR-E, one of whose missions is to Monitor-Inform-Alerter, maintains a national register that provides an exhaustive list of French patients with this disease.

Working on this theme in the laboratory: Coralie Barrera, Anne-Pauline Bellanger, Sandra Courquet, Abdou Malik Da Silva, Florent Demonmerot, Jenny Knapp, Laurence Millon
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