#1
Potentially fatal fox tapeworm on the rise in Ontario
Jane Stevenson
Published:
August 12, 2018
Updated:
August 12, 2018 4:09 PM EDT
An infected dog liver. (Supplied photo)
Tapeworms. Who wants to think about them, let alone talk about them?
Turns out Dr. Andrew Peregrine, a veterinary parasitologist from the University of Guelph, does as cases involving the potentially-fatal fox tapeworm are on the rise in Ontario and can spread to both dogs and humans.
“If you asked me which parasites scare me most, this would be in the top three list,” says Peregrine.
“There is no other tapeworm that behaves like this which will cause really nasty disease in people and in dogs.”
We’re not talking David Cronenberg’s 1975 parasite horror film, Shivers, just yet, but it is cause for concern.
We caught up with Peregrine recently:
Q. How frequently is this parasitic infection occurring?
A. We’ve had six dogs in Ontario since 2012. It’s thought most human infections occur likely from domestic dogs. If dogs eat rodents, they will develop the adult tapeworm in their intestine. They shed eggs in their feces which are immediately infective for people. If you’re not careful handling dog feces, you might ingest eggs that way.
Q. How many human cases are we talking?
A. There’s been five or six human cases reported in Alberta in the last four years. Because it’s just become reportable in Ontario in the last month, we’re going to start hearing about it. I’ve anecdotally heard there have been some human cases.
Q. Are there symptoms in people?
A. Because the disease in the liver, there’s pain in the upper abdomen. And so it presents like other things that cause liver disease like tumours.
Q. How recent is this a concern?
A. It’s a brand new issue over the last six years in Ontario. Until about 2010, the only Canadian provinces where this parasite was thought to occur was Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The prairie provinces which have always had this parasite in wildlife … with adult tapeworms living in the intestines of foxes and coyotes and the intermediate stage of the tapeworm infecting rodents such as mice. The parasite basically invades the liver and behaves like an aggressive tumour.
Q. Do you have a theory why it’s in Ontario?
A. It’s likely it invaded from the U.S. and we know now — after a big study that was here in Ontario on foxes and coyotes — … it’s right across Southern Ontario, right from Windsor to the Quebec border. Two things have probably happened. Number one, foxes and coyotes have likely come across the border because foxes and coyotes typically move large distances, like well over 100 kilometres. The other issue is there are a lot of dogs that move across the U.S. border all the time and there’s no requirement for tapeworm control …. It could easily have been introduced by dogs travelling into Canada from the U.S.
Q. Does this parasite have a very high fatality rate in humans?
A. Most people will be dead within 10 to 15 years if they’re not treated.
Q. How can humans and dogs prevent this infestation from happening?
A. The important thing for dog owners is to go to their vet to find out whether or not it is a risk where they live. So is the parasite in their area? And then the other conversation piece is to what extent does your dog eat rodents? (For) a downtown Toronto dog that never goes outdoors or rarely, the risk of them developing an intestinal infection is zero. But if you live in a rural area and your dog outside the whole time, … eating rodents will happen.
Q. Are cats also at risk?
A. No. For whatever reason, cats don’t get the liver form. They get the intestinal infection but for very short periods.

http://torontosun.com/health/diet-fi...ise-in-ontario