Hydatid disease (Echinococcosis granulosis) diagnosis from skeletal osteolytic lesions in an early seventh-millennium BP forager community from preagricultural northern Vietnam

Melandri Vlok*, Hallie R. Buckley, Kate Domett, Anna Willis, Monica Tromp, Hiep H. Trinh, Tran T. Minh, Nguyen T. Mai Huong, Lan Cuong Nguyen, Hirofumi Matsumura, Nghia T. Huu, Marc F. Oxenham*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Objectives: Con Co Ngua is a complex, sedentary forager site from northern Vietnam dating to the early seventh millennium BP. Prior research identified a calcified Echinococcus granulosis cyst, which causes hydatid disease. Osteolytic lesions consistent with hydatid disease were also present in this individual and others. Hydatid disease is observed in high frequencies in pastoralists, and its presence in a hunter-gatherer community raises questions regarding human-animal interaction prior to farming. The objective of this article is to identify and describe the epidemiology of hydatid disease in the human skeletal assemblage at Con Co Ngua. Materials and methods: One hundred and fifty-five individuals were macroscopically assessed for lesions. Of these, eight individuals were radiographed. Hydatid disease was diagnosed using a new threshold criteria protocol derived from clinical literature, which prioritizes lesions specific to the parasite. Results: Twenty-two individuals (14.2%) presented with osteolytic lesions consistent with hydatid disease, affecting the distal humerus, proximal femur and forearm, and pelvis. Seven individuals radiographed (4.5%) had multilocular cystic lesions strongly diagnostic for hydatid disease. All probable cases had lesions of the distal humerus. The remaining lesions were macroscopically identical to those radiographed and were considered possible cases. Discussion: While hydatid disease has previously been found in pre-agricultural communities, the high prevalence at Con Co Ngua is non-incidental. We propose that the presence of wild canids and management of wild buffalo and deer increased the risk of disease transmission. These findings further reveal subsistence complexity among hunter-gatherers living millennia prior to the adoption of farming in Southeast Asia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)100-115
    Number of pages16
    JournalAmerican Journal of Biological Anthropology
    Volume177
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

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