Echinococcum multilocularis, a very scary tapeworm!
WHAT IS ECHINOCOCCUS MULTILOCULARIS?
Echinococcus multilocularis has been recently found in southern Ontario. It is a tiny tapeworm (~1-4mm long) found in the small intestine of foxes, coyotes, and sometimes dogs and, very rarely, cats. When these animals have Echinococcus multilocularis in their small intestine eggs are shed in their feces (stool)
WHAT IS ALVEOLAR ECHINOCOCCOSIS (AE)?
AE is a disease caused by the intermediate stage of Echinococcus multilocularis. Humans and dogs can develop AE. People become infected by accidentally swallowing the eggs of Echinococcus multilocularis. When AE occurs, the intermediate stage of the parasite causes significant damage to the liver, and sometimes the lungs, brain, or other organs.
HOW CAN ALVEOLAR ECHINOCOCCOSIS (AE) IN PEOPLE BE PREVENTED?
Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds after touching a coyote or fox.
Hunters and trappers should use plastic gloves while handling coyotes or foxes.
If your dog eats rodents, consult your veterinarian about preventative treatment for intestinal infections.
CAN MY DOG GET ECHINOCOCCUS MULTILOCULARIS?
Potentially yes, if you live in an area where this parasite occurs.Echinococcus multilocularis can cause two problems in dogs; intestinal tapeworm infections, and liver cysts (alveolar echinococcosis). Dogs need to eat an infected rodent (living or dead) to develop the intestinal parasite.
Dogs with intestinal tapeworm infections are not usually sick but will shed eggs in their feces
Dogs can develop alveolar echinococcosis if a substantial number of eggs are ingested (e.g., from consuming the feces from an infected fox/coyote)
If you have concerns about you or your dog developing AE, please talk to us about a preventative medication such as Interceptor Plus.