Frequently Asked Questions 

WHAT IS ECHINOCOCCUS MULTILOCULARIS?

  • Echinococcus multilocularis has been recently found in southern Ontario

  • Echinococcus multilocularis 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

  • When AE occurs, the intermediate stage of the parasite causes significant damage to the liver, and sometimes the lungs, brain, or other organs

 

HOW DO PEOPLE DEVELOP ALVEOLAR ECHINOCOCCOSIS (AE)?

  • People become infected by accidentally swallowing the eggs of Echinococcus multilocularis

  • People can be exposed to eggs by "hand-to-mouth" transfer after handling an infected coyote, fox, dog or cat with eggs on their coat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ALVEOLAR ECHINOCOCCOSIS (AE) IN PEOPLE?

  • AE may not produce signs or symptoms for 5-15 years

  • Symptoms may include:

    • Pain/discomfort in upper abdomen

    • Weakness

    • Weight loss

 

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

 

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK I HAVE ALVEOLAR ECHINOCOCCOSIS?

  • If you are concerned about your health, please speak to your local physician or public health department

 

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)

 

HOW DO DOGS DEVELOP AN INTESTINAL INFECTION WITH ECHINOCOCCUS MULTILOCULARIS?

  • 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

    • If your dog eats rodents, consult your local veterinarian about preventative treatment for intestinal infections

    • If people ingest Echinococcus multilocularis eggs from their dog’s feces they could be at risk for alveolar echinococcosis

 

HOW DO DOGS DEVELOP ALVEOLAR ECHINOCOCCOSIS (AE)?

  • 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 your dog developing AE, please consult your local veterinarian

 

 

15/01/18

Developed by:

Jonathon Kotwa | PhD Candidate

Department of Pathobiology

University of Guelph

 

 

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us using the submission box below:

 

 

 

 

Thanks for your question!

Reviewed 09/09/19