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Modelling the age variation of larval protoscoleces of Echinococcus granulosus in sheep

Torgerson, P.R., Ziadinov, I., Aknazarov, D., Nurgaziev, R., Deplazes, P.
International journal for parasitology 2009 v.39 no.9 pp. 1031-1035
sheep, Echinococcus granulosus, echinococcosis, larvae, protoscoleces, hydatids, animal age, disease prevalence, mathematical models, epidemiology, Kyrgyzstan
In autumn 2006, a study of the age-dynamics of Echinococcus granulosus cyst abundance was undertaken from an abattoir study of 1081 sheep slaughtered in Naryn Province in central Kyrgyzstan, an area endemic for echinococcosis. The results demonstrated approximately 64% of sheep were infected with the prevalence increasing markedly with age. The mean abundance was 3.8 cysts per sheep. From established models, an infection pressure of 1.33 cysts per year was estimated. In addition all cysts were recovered from infected sheep and the numbers of protoscoleces was evaluated in each cyst. A new model was developed that examined the variation in numbers of protoscoleces per infected sheep with age. This demonstrated that young sheep aged 1-2years had very few protoscoleces, but there was a massive increase as the sheep aged. The best-fitting model assumed that the number of protoscoleces in a sheep was proportional to the volume of the cysts. In this model, the radius of the individual cyst increased linearly with the age of the cyst and hence the volume increased with the cube of the cyst age. This combined with the linear increase in numbers of cysts with age resulted in a massive accumulation of protoscoleces with the age of sheep. When the model was parameterised it demonstrated that 80% of protoscoleces were present in sheep aged 4years and older and this represented just 28% sheep slaughtered. An average sheep at 6 or more years of age has an abundance of over 9700 protoscoleces, whilst in a young sheep of 1year of age an average of just 16 protoscoleces could be found. The average for the sampled population across all ages was 1562 protoscoleces per sheep. The maximum number of protoscoleces in a single cyst was just 482 for sheep aged 1year rising to 92,000 for sheep aged 6years or older. The mean volume of cysts containing protoscoleces increased from approximately 0.7ml at 1year of age to 8.8ml at 6years of age. Cysts containing protoscoleces ranged from a diameter of 0.5-8cm with a volume of fluid ranging from 0.2 to 50ml. It is hypothesised that removal of old sheep through a culling programme could substantially improve the control of cystic echinococcosis.