Small Mammal Study (2016 - 2017)

Echinococcus multilocularis in a wild free-living eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) in Southern Ontario: A case report and subsequent field study of wild small mammals

Shannon K. French, Sarah Jajou, G. Douglas Campbell, Hugh Y.Cai, Jonathon D. Kotwa, Andrew S. Peregrine, Claire M. Jardine



Southern Ontario has recently been identified as a risk area for Echinococcus multilocularis, based on surveys of foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and coyotes (Canis latrans) which act as definitive hosts of the parasite. In this manuscript, we describe the first detection of E. multilocularis in an eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) in North America. This case, submitted to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) in August 2016 as part of ongoing wildlife disease surveillance activities, represents the first report of alveolar echinococcosis in a wild, free living, intermediate host from southern Ontario, providing further evidence of an established sylvatic cycle of E. multilocularis in this region. The finding prompted a field investigation to identify additional cases of alveolar echinococcosis in small mammals in the summer of 2017. Echinococcus multilocularis was not detected in any of the 196 small mammals submitted to the CWHC from across southern Ontario or in any of the 43 small mammals trapped in the area where the infected chipmunk was found. However, given the suspected low prevalence and patchy distribution of E. multilocularis in small mammals, our negative results do not preclude the established presence of the parasite. This case emphasizes the importance of passive surveillance networks for monitoring new and emerging diseases in wildlife populations.


French SK, Jajou S, Campbell GD, Cai HY, Kotwa JD, Peregrine AS, Jardine CM. (2018). Echinococcus multilocularis in a wild free-living eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) in Southern Ontario: A case report and subsequent field study of wild small mammals. Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports, 13, 234-237.

Reviewed 09/09/19

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

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