Fatal Tapeworm Infection Update

Fatal Tapeworm Infection Update

mouseLast year, we reported on a highly dangerous and fatal intestinal parasite that can be transmitted to dogs, cats, and humans called Echinococcus multilocularis. You can read more about the infection here. Because the disease is mainly spread through contact with infected feces, dogs and outdoor cats are susceptible to this parasite. Humans, by way of direct contact with their dog or outdoor cat’s stools, are at risk too. Prior to 2012, this tapeworm was thought only to exist in parts of Europe, Asia, and Alaska. Unfortunately, since this time, Public Health Ontario reports diagnosing tapeworm in five dogs, two primates, and numerous wild rodents. Frighteningly, none of these positive cases appear to be related or to have traveled outside Ontario, which suggests this is a domestic problem.

With only a handful of cases found since 2012, this hardly seems very scary, right? Public Health Ontario disagrees, especially because humans can become infected. The infection is typically asymptomatic until 10 years or more after exposure, which prevents early diagnosis. If left untreated (which is typical because the lack of any signs), fatality rates are as high as 90-100%! We don’t like those statistics either! There is good news though. For dogs that are at risk, there is excellent quality parasite treatment against this parasite, which means if they contract it, the medication will eradicate it. We will keep you updated with any new information about this scary parasite as it becomes available. If you want to check out more information through Public Health Ontario, please check out their website here.

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