PARASITE that causes a disease similar to cancer has been detected in the United States. Canadian researchers have warned this week that a parasitic disease similar to cancer and caused by a certain species of tapeworm has infiltrated the United States, reports Gizmodo.
As reported by 20 Minutos, recent research reveals that cases of the disease, which is still very rare, have started to increase in the Canadian province of Alberta in recent years, in both humans and animals. Researchers say they have evidence that these parasites were likely brought in by dogs from Europe and have now definitely established a new home on the Continent.
The disease is called alveolar echinococcosis (EA) and it is caused by infection with the tapeworm. Allegedly, the hosts of these worms are wild animals such as foxes, coyotes, wolves and domestic dogs. Humans often become infected when they ingest microscopic eggs by eating contaminated food or by contact with other infected animals.
Once in our body, the tapeworm has no way out. The eggs of this worm can penetrate our organs, especially the liver, and become self-sustaining parasitic growths that are similar to an external tumour. The symptoms mimic liver cancer, including pain in the upper abdomen, general weakness, and weight loss. Without treatment, which involves surgical removal of growths and taking antiparasitic drugs for life, it is fatal.
Scientists say they have documented 17 human cases in Alberta, Canada, alone between 2013 and 2020. Most of them were dog owners, and in one case, the infection led to the death of the patient.