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:

 

 

 

 

Reviewed 09/09/19

© 2018-2019 by Dr. Jonathon D. Kotwa | PhD | Department of Pathobiology, University of Guelph.

The content of this website is intended to offer general information about Echinococcus multilocularis in Ontario. It is not intended to substitute the knowledge provided by health-care professionals. None of the information contained in this web site is intended to be used for decisions on diagnosis or treatment.