Update of a Fatal Tapeworm Infection in Canada!

Update of a Fatal Tapeworm Infection in Canada!

For the last two years, a deadly intestinal parasite has been creeping its way through Canada. This parasite, called Echinococcus multilocularis, is a particular type of tapeworm that is prevalent throughout Europe, Asia, and Alaska, but has finally made a home in Canada over the last few years. While initial reports indicated there were only a handful of dogs infected (with no travel history), recent reports prove this fatal parasite is now “well establish in the region [of Southern Ontario]”. In fact, researchers as the University of Guelph have found that nearly one in four coyotes and foxes tested positive for this parasite! Dr. Andrew Peregrine, a professor at the University of Guelph, notes, “This was surprising to us, because eastern and southwestern Ontario are far outside the previously known distribution.”. This exponential increase in activity is feared to become more widespread with every passing season. Because this parasite is spread through oral-fecal contact with coyote or fox stool, those dogs that eat feces or those outdoor cats are particularly vulnerable for catching this tapeworm. Once ingested, these furry companions will shed tapeworm eggs in their stools, which is the direct method by which a human becomes infected.

View example of echinococcus.

So far, there haven’t been reports of infected humans, however, according to Dr. Scott Weese, another professor at the University of Guelph, “Since we have this parasite in wild canids and it’s spilled over into dogs, it’s almost certain that there are infected people in the province, they just don’t know it yet.”. The lengthy incubation period (from the moment you ingest the parasite eggs until the moment you become sick) is between 5-15 years, so many years will need to pass before the entire scope of the problem can be assessed by Health Canada. So how do you protect your furry family member and you and your human family? If you know your dog eats feces, rodents, or may come into contact with any wildlife of any kind, you should contact our clinic to arrange for regular, deworming treatments that are not found in any heartworm or tick preventatives. Also, if you have a cat that goes outdoors, chances are they’ve come into contact with this parasite and will need regular deworming treatments too. We urge all of you reading this to contact us right away if you have any concerns about this fatal parasite!

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