Hydatid disease

Hydatid disease is a disease caused by a parasitic infection. It is rare in the UK but common in many parts of the world, particularly in areas where sheep farming is prevalent. The parasite (echinococcus) has a complicated life cycle involving sheep (or goats), dogs and occasionally man. The parasites grow in cysts in the liver and may have no symptoms or they may cause pain, fever, abdominal swelling or jaundice. The parasitic infection is usually treated initially with several months of antiparasitic medication (e.g. albendazole), to eradicate the most active disease, followed by surgical resection of the cysts. The prognosis is excellent if caught early and correctly treated.