Serologic evidence of Echinococcus granulosus in slaughterhouses in Pakistan: global alarm for butchers in developing countries.
Introduction: Cystic echinococcosis, caused by Echinococcus granulosus, is a neglected zoonosis that affects humans and livestock. This sero-survey was designed for the first time in Pakistan to assess the exposure of butchers to E. granulosus as there was no previous report in the country for this occupational group. Methodology: Blood samples were collected from registered butchers (n = 364) in five different slaughterhouses in Faisalabad and Bahawalnagar Districts. Sera were tested for anti-Echinococcus granulosus IgG with a commercially available ELISA kit (specificity, 100%; sensitivity, 97%). Results: Overall, seroprevalence was 9.61% (35/364). Butchers >30 years of age (10.34%), those involved in small ruminants butchery (11.70%), >10 years' experience (10.04%), formal education level up to middle standard (10.28%), contact with dogs (12.71%), improper/unhygienic disposal of dog feces (11.87%), and those unaware of the consequences of eating with unwashed hands (13.80%) were more seropositive with significant statistical differences (p < 0.05). Variables like previous cyst encounter, no knowledge of zoonoses and/or cystic echinococcosis, living in rural areas and the presence of stray/feral dogs in surroundings did not show any significant association (p > 0.05) with seroprevalence in butchers. The binary logistic regression model also showed a statistically significant relationship (p < 0.05) for all risk factors found statistically significant (p < 0.05) in the univariate analysis. Conclusions: This study shows high prevalence of cystic echinococcosis among butchers in Pakistan and underscores the need for educating native slaughterhouse personnel on cystic echinococcosis. It also serves as a global warning, especially in developing countries.