Echinococcus multilocularis is a small tapeworm that has been recently discovered in dogs by researchers at the Ontario Veterinary College.
It is found only in the Northern Hemispehere and typically infects wild carnivores such as foxes, wolves and coyotes. The tapeworm lives within the small intestines and releases microscopic eggs into the feces. Rodents such as voles and deer mice serve as the parasite’s intermediate host, harbouring the the larval stage of the tapeworm in their organs, mainly the liver. Dogs may then become infected with the adult tapeworm by ingesting infected rodents. They in turn can start shedding eggs into their feces which puts people and other dogs at risk of the parasite’s larval form if they inadvertently ingest the eggs. This larval stage of Echinococcus is characterized as a slow-developing infiltrative space-occupying tumour like lesion in the liver or other organs. Because the larval cysts are slow growing, people may be infected with the parasite for many years before showing symptoms. Without treatment, the parasite can be fatal in humans.
This parasite is a public health risk to humans as well as a serious concern for your pet. Dogs should be prevented from eating wild carnivore feces and rodents. If this is not possible then a monthly deworming protocol should be initiated.
Please call if there are concerns or questions. In the meantime visit https://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/files/2008/04/M2-Echinococcus.pdf for more information.