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Spatial and temporal aspects of urban transmission of Echinococcus multilocularis

  • C. STIEGER (a1), D. HEGGLIN (a1) (a2), G. SCHWARZENBACH (a2), A. MATHIS (a1) and P. DEPLAZES (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 August 2002

High prevalences of Echinococcus multilocularis have been reported from foxes of the city of Zurich, Switzerland. In order to characterize transmission in urban areas, a coproantigen ELISA was evaluated for diagnosing the infection in fox faecal samples collected in the environment. In addition, trapped rodents were investigated for the presence of metacestodes. Faecal samples could reliably be classified as being of fox origin by assessing physical properties as shown by the different parasite spectra of putative fox and dog faecal specimens. From the total of 604 tested putative fox faecal samples 156 (25·8%) were positive in the ELISA with a distinct increase in the proportion of positive samples from the urban to the periurban zone. Furthermore, samples collected in the border zone had significantly more coproantigen-positive results during winter. Prevalence of E. multilocularis in rodents was 9·1% (81/889) for Arvicola terrestris (with 3·5% of the animals harbouring between 14 and 244400 protoscoleces) and 2·4% (2/83) for Clethrionomys glareolus. E. multilocularis-infected A. terrestris were found in 9 of 10 trapping sites in the border zone. The high infection pressure in the periphery of urban areas might pose a risk for infection with E. multilocularis for both domestic carnivores as well as for urban inhabitants. Interventions into the cycle aiming at reducing the infection pressure should therefore focus on these areas.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author: Institute of Parasitology, Winterthurerstrasse 266a, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland. Tel: +41 1 6358501. Fax: +41 1 6358907. E-mail:
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  • ISSN: 0031-1820
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