A potentially fatal tape spread by foxes, coyotes found in Ontario



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Research at the University of Guelph showed that a quarter of foxes and coyotes in Southern Ontario had a trick that could be fatal to dogs and their owners.

Almost one in four coyotes and foxes in the area from Windsor to Ottawa was positive for the Echinococcus multilocularis, which was found only in western Canada so far.

Andrew Peregrine, a leading researcher at the Ontario Veterinary Academy at the University of Guelph, said the findings suggest that the tapeworm is now well-established and is present even longer than stated in the study.

Over two winters, the research group collected 460 foxes and coyotes belonging to the wild canida family and examined the intestines. They found that 23% were positively evaluated by E. multilocularis. The first case was found in 2012 in five dogs, as well as in three other species in southern Ontario.

"Indeed, when we first showed the data to those we worked with in Sweden, two things have been said: you've had it much longer than you think, and this is most likely to come from the US," Peregrine said.

Dogs that are not on a leash will be more likely to swallow parasites. (Marina von Stackelberg / CBC)

E. multilocularis parasite spread coyotes and foxes that eat infected rodents, such as field mice, notes the report. For reasons that are not known, wild animals do not get sick, dogs eating coyote or leafy droppings containing parasite eggs – or dogs that catch and eat infected rodents – can develop a severe infection called alveolar echinococcosis or AE.

People can get infected right away if these eggs find their way into their system. Probably they will buy pet owners from their dogs, but not from direct contact with fox and cock hips, Peregrine said. When owners permit their pets to sleep in their beds, they are more likely to get a microscopic tweezer. If the lower part of the dog is covered with parasites, they can be transferred to the dog's owner's bed and ingested it in this way.

Parasite is largely unnoticed and can not give rise to any signs or symptoms in dogs or humans. Both can carry infection for several years, but eventually aggressively attack the liver and become potentially fatal.

If your dog is known to eat rodents or hunt, there is a drug [it can take] prevent the development of intestinal infections.– prof. Andrew Peregrine, University of Guelph

For dog owners, the infection can cause a devastating loss.

Megan MacLusky often allowed her dog Bauer to leave her dog Bauer while walking around the fields and the forest around Guelph, Ont., Where she lives.

Two years later, Bauer developed a large mass on his side, which turned out to be an enlarged liver and cyst. After a series of tests and veterinary visits, his veterinarian concluded that the liver increased due to AE infection and cyst contained parasites.

MacLusky put Bauer on antiparasitic drugs. When this failed, it was operated, but the cyst could not be completely removed.

"Bauer almost returned to normal in almost a year, but in the end, more clean was formed," she said.

"Bauer has to swallow out the coyote at some point, but he would often bounce back in things that I can not be sure when this happened," MacLusky said from the dog he saw after surgery to remove cysts, caused by the parasite. (Megan MacLusky)

MacLusky said that in early 2016 another operation was undertaken to try to remove cysts, but surrounded Bauer's gallbladder and emerged from other organs. Soon after surgery, she made a difficult decision to let him down because she was in too much pain.

Preventive treatment

Peregrine says that the parasite is present in rural and urban areas, so it is important that dog owners talk to their veterinarians about their habits of domestic animals.

"Veterinarians now know where this parasite is and where in the province is the greatest risk," he said.

"If it is known that your dog is eating rodents or hunting, there is a drug [it can take] prevent the development of intestinal infections by eliminating any concerns about human infections in the household. "

But not every dog ​​needs treatment. If your dog never goes to a leash, either in the urban or rural area, it is unlikely that you would eat the rodents. The risk is higher for dogs, which are often on the leash, Peregrine said.

"It is known that the European strain is very strong in humans"

Alessandro Massolo, associate professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Calgary, also studied the E. multilocularis tape. He said that the extent of the threat in Ontario is still largely unknown, but should be taken seriously, especially if it turns out to be a European strain that is more dangerous than North American.

Owners who allow their dogs to sleep in their beds are more susceptible to infections. (REUTERS)

While the North American strain was detected in western Canada, a study of the fox and coyote carcasses in Southern Ontario did not determine which strain was present.

"If a European strain [is] it circulates in our wildlife, then things change completely because it is known that the European strain is very strong in humans, "said Massolo.

If a European is present in Ontario, it is not yet known how he came.

Similarly, the geographical extent of the parasite can not be fully understood until an appropriate study is carried out, but such research lasts for a long time and is usually expensive, he said.

Guelph's study shows that something has changed from an ecological point of view, Massolo said, and the fact that the parasite is spreading increases the risk to humans and animals.

"In any case, this is the kind of infection you do not want."

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