Echinococcus multilocularis isn’t a magic spell, it’s a parasite. The tiny tapeworm is found in the intestines of foxes and coyotes. The eggs from the tapeworms are found in the animals’ feces and are picked up by rodents where the worms develop into an intermediate stage and cause cysts on the liver. These cysts are ultimately fatal if untreated.
If your dog eats rodents or the feces of coyotes or foxes they can become infected. The parasite is easily transferred from dog to human, and humans can go into liver failure.
Most research has been done in Switzerland where the parasite is becoming a growing concern. The parasite wasn’t known in north America until recently, showing in Alaska, British Columbia and now Ontario, Canada.
Here’s the worst part: those humans infected will take up to 15 years to show symptoms.
Pathobiology professor Andrew Peregrine who is studying the disease stated:
“It takes five to 15 years for clinical signs to develop in humans, so we may have people in Ontario infected with the parasite but not yet diagnosed. To date, all people in contact with the three Ontario dogs have tested negative. Cases in dogs may have been missed because the infection in the liver looks grossly like a tumour.”
It is anticipated that this will become a growing concern throughout Canada and the US.