BACKGROUND: Human alveolar echinococcosis (AE) is known to be common in certain rural communities in China whilst it is generally rare and sporadic elsewhere. The objective of this study was to provide a first estimate of the global incidence of this disease by country. The second objective was to estimate the global disease burden using age and gender stratified incidences and estimated life expectancy with the disease from previous results of survival analysis. Disability weights were suggested from previous burden studies on echinococcosis.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We undertook a detailed review of published literature and data from other sources. We were unable to make a standardised systematic review as the quality of the data was highly variable from different countries and hence if we had used uniform inclusion criteria many endemic areas lacking data would not have been included. Therefore we used evidence based stochastic techniques to model uncertainty and other modelling and estimating techniques, particularly in regions where data quality was poor. We were able to make an estimate of the annual global incidence of disease and annual disease burden using standard techniques for calculation of DALYs. Our studies suggest that there are approximately 18,235 (CIs 11,900-28,200) new cases of AE per annum globally with 16,629 (91%) occurring in China and 1,606 outside China. Most of these cases are in regions where there is little treatment available and therefore will be fatal cases. Based on using disability weights for hepatic carcinoma and estimated age and gender specific incidence we were able to calculate that AE results in a median of 666,434 DALYs per annum (CIs 331,000-1.3 million).
CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The global burden of AE is comparable to several diseases in the neglected tropical disease cluster and is likely to be one of the most important diseases in certain communities in rural China on the Tibetan plateau.