Echinococcus – Cyst

Consistent with O. Reg. 671/92 of the French Language Services Act, laboratory testing information on this page is only available in English because it is scientific or technical in nature and is for use only by qualified health care providers and not by members of the public.

Testing Indications

Prior to collection, contact the Public Health laboratory at (416) 235-6556 or toll free 1 (877) 604-4567.

Specimen Collection and Handling

Specimen Requirements

Test Requested Required Requisition(s) Specimen Type Minimum Volume Collection Kit

Ova and Parasites1

Aspirated fluid from cyst


Sterile container

Ova and Parasites1,2

Excised cyst


Sterile container

Submission and Collection Notes


Please note on the requisition (under other): If the patient has Eosinophilia, or a space-occupying lesion noted by imaging.


Indicate Country/Region and if the patient is a new immigrant or refugee or returned traveler under ‘Travel’ section of the requisition

  • Echinococcus granulosus is widely distributed across Canada
  • Echinococcus multilocularis has a more limited distribution: AB, MB, ON, SK, NWT

Storage and Transport

Label the specimen container with the patient’s full name, date of collection and one other unique identifier such as the patient’s date of birth or Health Card Number. Failure to provide this information may result in rejection or testing delay. 

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

Echinococcus testing is performed Monday to Friday.

Turnaround time is up to 3 days from receipt by the PHO laboratory.

Test Methods

Definitive diagnosis is made by either detection of larval cestodes (protoscolices) or the hooklets thereof, from fluid collected (aspirated) from suspected cysts.

Serum should also be sent for echinococcal serology.


Results are reported to the ordering physician or health care provider as indicated on the requisition.

Distribution of organism species

  • Echinococcus granulosus is widely distributed across Canada.
  • Echinococcus multilocularis has a more limited distribution: AB, MB, SK, NWT.

Mode of transmission

Humans can be infected by consuming the infective eggs passed by the carnivore hosts of Echinococcus spp. For this reason, those who handle live carnivores, their feces, pelts or carcasses should wear gloves and use good hygiene to avoid contamination by tapeworm eggs.

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Updated 20 July 2020