The parasite Echinococcus multilocularis was first detected in The Netherlands in 1996 and repeated studies have shown that the parasite subsequently spread in the local population of foxes in the province of Limburg. It was not possible to quantify the human risk of alveolar echinococcosis because no relationship between the amount of parasite eggs in the environment and the probability of infection in humans was known. Here, we used the spread of the parasite in The Netherlands as a predictor, together with recently published historical records of the epidemiology of alveolar echinococcosis in Switzerland, to achieve a relative quantification of the risk. Based on these analyses, the human risk in Limburg was simulated and up to three human cases are predicted by 2018. We conclude that the epidemiology of alveolar echinococcosis in The Netherlands might have changed from a period of negligible risk in the past to a period of increasing risk in the forthcoming years.
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