Beware of Echinococcosis エキノコックス症

What is Echinococcosis?

Echinococcosis is a disease in which the eggs of the echinococcus parasite enter the human body through the mouth, growing in the liver and other organs as larvae, and causing liver dysfunction. Because the larvae of echinococcus grow very slowly, it is said that this infection may not produce any symptoms for many years- even up to 10 years or more. Nowadays, the disease can be detected at an early stage by blood tests, and can be cured by surgery.

How do you get infected with Echinococcus?

Echinococcus eggs can enter the human body through direct contact with an echinococcal-infected fox or its feces. They can also enter the human body when a person eats raw wild vegetables contaminated with fox feces, or drinks contaminated mountain runoff or spring water. There is no human-to-human transmission for this condition.

How can we prevent the spread of echinococcosis?

To prevent the infection of echinococcosis, keep in mind the following points:         

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly after going out in the fields or mountains. Also, be sure to remove any mud on your clothes and shoes.
  2. Don’t feed foxes, and don’t leave leftover food for foxes.
  3. Don’t touch foxes by feeding or calling them over just because they are cute.
  4. Wash wild fruits or vegetables thoroughly under running water and heat them well before eating.
  5. Don’t drink unboiled water collected in mountainous areas.

Echinococcosis screening

If you are elementary school-aged or older and living in Sapporo City, your health center provides a free medical check-up and test.

To book an appointment, contact the Health and Children’s Division at the Health Center where you wish to have a checkup. Contact information for each ward is listed here (in Japanese).

  • If you wish to have an echinococcosis screening, please visit the Sapporo City website to confirm the implementation status in advance. Screenings may be cancelled on short notice, depending on the Covid-19 situation.

[Request for cooperation in infection prevention measures]

  • Please refrain from taking the test if you have a fever of 37.5 degrees Celsius or higher, or if you are in poor health.
  • Please wear a mask, disinfect your hands, and take other measures to prevent infection in the examination room.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your understanding.

Please refer to the following website (in Japanese) for information on health checkups (blood tests) conducted by municipalities in Hokkaido other than Sapporo City for those who live outside of Sapporo City, and further information for those who live outside of Hokkaido but wish to take the test for echinococcosis.  

Based on the information from Sapporo city       Last reviewed on March 2, 2022