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Public Health

Emerging Diseases:

Fox Lung worm is here in Ontario! This causes clinical disease in dogs and there are now 3 confirmed cases in Ontario. For more information please visit the Worms and Germs blog at :http://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/2015/03/articles/animals/dogs/lungworms-in-ontario-dog/index.html


Echinococcus is now here in Ontario!
Echinococcus is a group of tapeworms. Tapeworms are parasites that live in the small intestines of many different animals, including humans.
Of all the tapeworms in pets, Echinococcus pose the greatest disease risk to people.

What animals host this tapeworm?
Foxes, wild canids such as coyotes and wolves are the definitive hosts. A definitive host is one that the adult tapeworm in the intestines and sheds the eggs in its feces.
Small prey animals such as voles, mice, and rats, but also rabbits, sheep and moose are intermediate hosts. An intermediate host is one that carries the cyst stage of the parasite in the body tissue, and then is eaten by the definitive host.
Dogs and humans can be accidental intermediate hosts.

How do I get infected?
People can be infected with the cyst form if they swallow the eggs from the feces of an infected host - both domestic and feral dogs and cats.
People will not get the intestinal tapeworm even if they eat meat containing the cyst.

Preventing infection in pets therefore helps to prevent infection in people.

Why is Echinococcus such a big concern for people?
- Its a potentially nasty parasitic disease that can act a lot like a tumour.
- By the tie it is recognized, treatment can be difficult.
- Since the incubation period is 5-15 years, infections identified now developed many years ago, and there are probably other people infected who do not yet know it
- This number of cases, combined with evidence of the parasite in wild canids (foxes, wolves, coyotes) in a couple of regions in southern Canada suggest the parasite is well established in certain parts of the country (besides the arctic) and probably beyond.

What is the risk for me?
The risk of infection in our pets and us is still low, however owners should take simple precautions to decrease the risk of exposure of their pets.

How do I prevent infection in me, my family and my pets?
1) Have a fecal test done at least once a year on your pets feces. However, if your pet is running around in the country where wild life feces exists, it is recommended to be checked several times per year.
2) Regular deworming with Praziquantel - as of January 17, 2019, Dr. Scott Weese at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, now recommends monthly deworming for those dogs running off leash, hunting and eating dead or live rodents.
3) Practice good hand hygiene after picking up your dogs feces.
4) If working with soil in the region, which could be contaminated, always wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly when done.

How is Echinococuss diagnosed and treated in humans?
Echinococcus may grow for years without causing any signs of illness. Cysts most often occur in the liver and lungs, but can also occur in the brain. Abdominal pain, chest pain or coughing, or neurological signs and seizures, could develop depending on the location of the cysts. Xrays, CT scans and MRI's can find the lesions. A blood test would confirm the diagnosis.
Surgery and antiparasitic drugs are used to treat it. With proper care, 96-98% of patients survive.

For more information, please visit www.wormsandgermsblog.ca



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