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Reproductive potential of Echinococcus multilocularis in experimentally infected foxes, dogs, raccoon dogs and cats

Kapel, C.M.O., Torgerson, P.R., Thompson, R.C.A. and Deplazes, P. (2006) Reproductive potential of Echinococcus multilocularis in experimentally infected foxes, dogs, raccoon dogs and cats. International Journal for Parasitology, 36 (1). pp. 79-86.

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A total of 15 red foxes, 15 raccoon dogs, 15 domestic dogs and 15 domestic cats were each infected with 20,000 protoscolices of Echinococcus multilocularis. At 35, 63, and 90 days post inoculation (dpi), five animals from each group were necropsied and the worm burdens determined. The highest worm burdens in foxes (mean of 16,792) and raccoon dogs (mean of 7930) were found at 35 dpi. These declined to a mean of just 331 worms in foxes and 3213 worms in raccoon dogs by day 63 with a further decline to 134 worms in foxes and 67 worms in raccoon dogs by day 90. In dogs, there was no significant difference between worm burdens recovered at days 35 (mean of 2466) and day 90 (mean of 1563), although reduced numbers were recovered on day 63 (mean of 899). In cats, worms were found in four animals 35 dpi (mean of 642), in three at 63 dpi (mean of 28) and in two at 90 dpi (mean of 57). Faecal egg counts were determined at 3 day intervals from 25 dpi. A mathematical model of egg excretion dynamics suggested that the mean biotic potential per infected animal was high in foxes (346,473 eggs); raccoon dogs (335,361 eggs) and dogs (279,910 eggs) but very low for cats (573 eggs). It also indicated that approximately 114, 42 and 27 eggs per worm were excreted in the faeces of dogs, raccoon dogs and foxes, respectively. The fecundity of worms in cats was low with an average of less than one egg per worm. The peak levels of coproantigen were detected earlier in foxes and raccoon dogs than in dogs. Eggs recovered from foxes, raccoon dogs and dogs resulted in massive infections in experimental mice. However, metacestodes did not develop from eggs originating from infected cats. It is concluded that foxes, raccoon dogs and dogs are good hosts of E. multilocularis. In contrast, the low worm establishment, the very few excreted eggs and the lack of infectivity of eggs strongly indicate that cats play an insignificant role in parasite transmission.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2005 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc.
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