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momentum grows to prevent and control cystic echinococcosis

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, dog-transmitted diseases such as cystic echinococcosis (CE), rabies and visceral leishmaniasis are endemic and are a major health and economic burden for communities.


© A. Guilbert – Farmer and her dogs in the Mideast of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

However, efforts to control dog-related zoonoses are increasing all the time, particularly in the case of CE, and particularly since the establishment of the Iranian Research Center for Hydatid Disease (RCHD) in 2013. RCHD aims to conduct basic epidemiological and clinical research , build capacity, raise public awareness and increase community outreach to tackle this neglected zoonotic disease.

This has led to important, concrete improvements. CE surveillance has increased after the establishment of a national CE registry. Access to CE diagnostics has also been expanded and awareness-raising campaigns have been delivered to children, clinicians and the public alike. Professional education to improve the diagnosis and treatment of CE is gathering pace, and the promotion of humane dog population management is also being prioritized.

These are all positive steps to improve preparedness and build momentum for the prevention and control of CE in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Improving CE surveillance through a national CE registry – Iranian Hydatid Disease Registry Guideline (in English and Farsi)

© Iranian Research Center for Hydatid Disease (RCHD). Improving CE surveillance through a national CE registry Iranian Hydatid Disease Registry Guideline (in English and Farsi)

Effective surveillance is the foundation for detection, control and management of CE. In 2014, RCHD, supported by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, created a national CE registry system (HydatidReg). The registry has helped improve the understanding of CE epidemiology in the Islamic Republic of Iran, highlight disease burden and inform treatment.

In 2015, the Iranian national CE registry system joined the European Register of Cystic Echinococcosis, contributing to global CE surveillance efforts and building momentum to understand and tackle CE more effectively.

Expanding access to CE diagnostics – Ultrasonography is the diagnostic of choice to detect CE in people© Majid Fasihi Harandi. Expanding access to CE diagnostics – Ultrasonography is the diagnostic of choice to detect CE in people

A recent project expanded access to CE diagnostics by offering community members ultrasound examinations. Individuals with suspected hydatid disease were referred for follow-up and subsequent treatment. In parallel, households were provided with face-to-face education on dog-related zoonoses by local community health workers.

© Iranian Research Center for Hydatid Disease (RCHD). Awareness campaigns on dog-related zoonoses for children, clinicians and the public – Pamphlet designed to raise awareness of CE and dog-related zoonoses in communities

Awareness is key to successful control programs. RCHD designed a pamphlet for communities, schoolchildren, patients and their families that explains the transmission and prevention of CE and other dog-related zoonotic diseases.

Simple, intuitive graphics explain the links between dogs and diseases, and make this information accessible to a wide audience.

© Majid Fasihi Harandi. Awareness campaigns on dog-related zoonoses for children, clinicians and the public – Distribution of the pamphlets to communities

Awareness campaigns on dog-related zoonoses for children, clinicians and the public – A simple and colorful illustration of CE.© Iranian Research Center for Hydatid Disease (RCHD). Awareness campaigns on dog-related zoonoses for children, clinicians and the public – A simple and colorful illustration of CE

As children play an important role in public education, RCHD is developing a special story, which uses child-friendly illustrations and concepts to describe CE.

The institution is also working on motion-graphic stories that can easily be shared via social media or in messages, by veterinary and medical students, physicians and clinicians, and the public themselves.

Professional education to improve diagnosis and treatment of CE – Posters with cyst classification guidance promote evidence-based diagnosis and treatment of CE© Iranian Research Center for Hydatid Disease (RCHD). Professional education to improve diagnosis and treatment of CE – Posters with cyst classification guidance promote evidence-based diagnosis and treatment of CE

CE is complicated to treat, and often requires prolonged drug therapy and/or surgery. Cyst staging helps physicians to manage CE cases safely and efficiently. To support this, RCHD designed a poster with cyst classification guidance for clinicians and shared it with radiologists and medical imaging departments. An electronic version is also available.

They further conducted workshops on the epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment of CE for various medical professionals throughout the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2021, these workshops were made accessible in virtual form.

Promoting humane dog population management – ​​International guidance on humane dog population management was translated into Farsi© International Companion Animal Management coalition (ICAM). Promoting humane dog population management – ​​International guidance on humane dog population management was translated into Farsi

Disseminating guidance on humane dog population management supported a positive shift in the mentality of authorities, activists and dog owners towards managing dog populations in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Additionally, in an Eastern Mediterranean-first, a study was conducted to estimate free-roaming dog populations and control options in the south-eastern area of ​​the country.

Promoting humane dog population management – ​​An infographic on humane dog population management was distributed to animal and human health officials across the country © International Companion Animal Management coalition (ICAM). Promoting humane dog population management – ​​An infographic on humane dog population management was distributed to animal and human health officials across the country

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