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Echinococcus Granulosus Life Cycle

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The adult Echinococcus granulosus (3 to 6 mm long) (1) resides in the small bowel of the definitive hosts, dogs or other canids. Gravid proglottids release eggs (2) that are passed in the feces. After ingestion by a suitable intermediate host (under natural conditions: sheep, goat, swine, cattle, horses, camel), the egg hatches in the small bowel and releases an oncosphere (3) that penetrates the intestinal wall and migrates through the circulatory system into various organs, especially the liver and lungs. In these organs, the oncosphere develops into a cyst (4) that enlarges gradually, producing protoscolices and daughter cysts that fill the cyst interior. The definitive host becomes infected by ingesting the cyst-containing organs of the infected intermediate host. After ingestion, the protoscolices (5) evaginate, attach to the intestinal mucosa (6), and develop into adult stages (1) in 32 to 80 days. Figure courtesy of: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

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