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Infection pressure of human alveolar echinococcosis due to village and small town foxes (Vuples vulpes) living in close proximity to residents

Janko, Christof, Linke, Stefan, Romig, Thomas, Thoma, Dorothea, Schröder, Wolfgang, König, Andreas
European journal of wildlife research 2011 v.57 no.5 pp. 1033-1042
Echinococcus multilocularis, bearings, echinococcosis, eggs, feces, foxes, grasslands, home gardens, humans, parasites, polymerase chain reaction, radio telemetry, risk, towns, villages, Germany
This study investigated the epidemiological and ecological factors to assess the infection pressure of alveolar echinococcosis to human which are living in villages and small towns. Foxes and fox faeces were examined for Echinococcus multilocularis and foxes were observed by radio telemetry in Upper Bavaria, Germany. Forty-three percent of the village foxes (n = 65) had been infected with E. multilocularis. This prevalence rate did not differ significantly from the prevalence among rural foxes, which was 39% (n = 33; χ 2 = 0.12, df = 1, p = 0.727) determined by the intestinal scraping technique. PCR analyses of fox faeces showed a higher infection rate of 35% (n = 26) among rural foxes than among foxes in villages and small towns (26%, n = 69; χ 2 = 0.68, df = 1, p = 0.411). One quarter of the fox faecal samples come from private gardens of residents. The radio-tracking study on 17 foxes showed that foxes preferred the built-up area and grassland outside the villages. Village foxes concentrated their activity within a range of 500 m around the settlement. Sixty-four percent of all bearings for radio-tracked foxes showed positions in areas outside the town, and 36% of bearings were within the settlement. Village foxes, which are infected with E. multilocularis, are able to carry the parasite continuously into settlements and fox faeces present an immediate source of infection to humans, especially within their gardens. Therefore, foxes are responsible for environmental E. multilocularis egg contamination in the vicinity of humans, leading to an infection risk to inhabitants of villages and small towns.