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Influence of environmental factors on the infectivity of Echinococcus multilocularis eggs

  • P. Veit (a1), B. Bilger (a1), V. Schad (a1), J. Schäfer (a1), W. Frank (a1) and R. Lucius (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 1995

The sensitivity of eggs of Echinococcus multilocularis to environmental and controlled laboratory conditions was tested. Egg material was exposed and the infectivity was subsequently monitored by in vitro activation and by oral infection of the natural host, Microtus arvalis. To study the impact of environmental conditions in an endemic area of south-western Germany, eggs were sealed into bags of nylon mesh and exposed to the natural climate during various seasons. The maximal survival time of eggs was 240 days in an experiment performed in autumn and winter and 78 days in summer. A study of the tenacity of eggs under laboratory conditions revealed a high sensitivity to elevated temperatures and to desiccation. At 45 °C and 85–95% relative humidity the infectivity was lost after 3 h as well as after 4 h exposure to 43 °C suspended in water. Exposure to 27% relative humidity at 25 °C as well as exposure to 15% relative humidity at 43 °C resulted in a total loss of infectivity within 48 and 2 h, respectively. Temperatures of 4 °C and of –18 °C were well tolerated (478 days and 240 days survival, respectively), whereas exposure to –83 °C and to –196 °C quickly killed off the eggs (within 48 h and 20 h, respectively). Eggs of E. multilocularis were not killed off by exposure to various commercially available disinfectants applied according to the manufacturers' instructions and by exposure for 24 h to low concentrations of ethanol. Irradiation with 40 krad. from a 137Caesium source prevented the development of metacestodes but allowed seroconversion of infected rodents.

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C. W. Colli & J. F. Williams (1972). Influence of temperature on the infectivity of eggs of Echinococcus granulosus in laboratory rodents. Journal of Parasitology 58, 422–6.

M. A. Gemmell (1969). Immunological responses of the mammalian host against tapeworm infections. X. Immunization of sheep against Taenia hydatigena and T. ovis with chemically or physically treated embryos. Experimental Parasitology 26, 5866.

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G. F. Laws (1967). Chemical ovacidal measures as applied to Taenia hydatigena, Taenia ovis, Taenia pisiforntis, and Echinococcus granulosus. Experimental Parasitology 20, 2737.

G. F. Laws (1968). Physical factors influencing survival of taeniid eggs. Experimental Parasitology 22, 227–39.

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A. F. Petavy , S. Deblock & S. Walbaum (1991). Life cycles of Echinococcus multilocularis in relation to human infection. Journal of Parasitology 77, 133–7.

E. L. Schiller (1955). Studies on the helminth fauna of Alaska. XXVI. Some observations on the cold-resistance of eggs of Echinococcus sibiricensis Rausch and Schiller, 1954. Journal of Parasitology 41, 578–82.

P. H. Silverman (1954). Studies on the biology of some tapeworms of the genus Taenia. I. Factors affecting hatching and activation of taeniid ova, and some criteria of their viability. Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology 48, 207–15.

L. J. Thomas & B. B. Babero (1956). Observations on the infectivity of Echinococcus eggs obtained from foxes (Alopex lagopus Linn.) on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. Journal of Parasitology 42, 659.

J. F. Williams & C. W. Colli (1972). Influence of ionizing irradiation on infectivity of eggs of Echinococcus granulosus in laboratory rodents. Journal of Parasitology 58, 427–30.

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