Echinococcus Multilocularis Tapeworm News Letter 2020.
A recent study by the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph has revealed we now have a new type of tape worm in Southern Ontario which can cause significant disease in dogs and humans.
We have always had some types of tapeworms here but they do not pose a serious health risk.
This newly identified invader is called Echinococcus Multilocularis . It has been present in parts of Europe, Asia and the Artic for a long time but was thought not to be in Ontario.
It can cause a disease called Alveolar Echinococcosis in dogs and humans.
Since 2012, Alveolar Echinococcosis has been diagnosed in 5 dogs, 3 lemurs and l chipmunk in southern Ontario. It has also been found in 3 humans. Alveolar echinococcosis (AE) is a chronic infection caused by the larval stage of the Echinococcus Mulitlocularis tapeworm. In this form the tapeworm causes tumor-like cysts in areas like the liver and it is difficult to treat. The good news is that it is still a rare disease in Ontario for dogs and people.
The university collected fecal samples from approximately 500 coyotes and foxes in southern Ontario and surprisingly found 23 % tested positive for eggs of this tapeworm. It has been found in areas of dense human population in southern Ontario suggesting canine and human transmission is likely to happen more frequently in the future.
This tapeworm’s life cycle involves 2 mammal hosts. Wild canids (foxes and coyotes), dogs and less commonly cats can all have adult tapeworms in their intestines with no clinical disease but can pass this infection to dogs or humans. Small rodents can be infected and pass the disease onto dogs and cats if eaten.
Dogs that are prone to eating feces or rodents are at highest risk of getting this parasite. Avoid contact with wild fox and coyote feces as much as possible. We should do our best to prevent and treat tapeworm infections in our dogs and cats. Monthly treatment for tapeworms is now recommended especially for dogs that might have contact with coyote or fox feces or that are prone to eating things like feces or small rodents.
Please let us know if you have any questions or would like to deworm your dog or cat.
Kathryn Hahn DVM, Nacy Swift DVM, Hurontario Veterinary Hospital 905 271-8508