Reduced egg production of Echinococcus multilocularis in experimentally infected and re-infected red foxes (Vulpes vulpes)

Mohammad Nafi Solaiman Al-Sabi, Christian M. O. Kapel, Pia Webster, Peter Deplazes

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Ingestion of eggs of the small fox tapeworm, Echinococcus multilocularis, causes the severe human disease alveolar echinococcosis. Previously, the dynamics of the egg excretion from infected carnivores have been studied only where the host animals have been exposed to a single experimental infection. In nature, foxes are most likely repeatedly infected. To study the effect of repeated exposure, twenty-one foxes were inoculated with a high dose of E. multilocularis protoscoleces three times over a 1-month period. For comparative purposes, three groups of twenty-one foxes were respectively inoculated with low, medium, or high single dose of protoscoleces. For each group, worm number and morphology were analyzed after necropsy of seven foxes at 1, 2, and 4 months after last inoculation. The establishment of intestinal worms was very low in all foxes, and surprisingly, most of the worms did not produce eggs. Although most reproductive structures were detectable, the genital pore and the cirrus pouch often had abnormal enlargements that spread internally, most likely preventing the reproductive function. The reason for this abnormality could not be determined, but the preparation and storage conditions of the inoculated protoscoleces may have contributed to the stunted development. Physical stress of E. multilocularis at the larval stage in rodents may later adversely affect the reproductive success of the adult tapeworm in the carnivore definitive host; as in the present study where a worm establishment in the definitive host was only followed by a neglectable egg production.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number1-2
Pages (from-to)59-66
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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