We often think of wildlife animals as being invincible especially when it comes to the numerous viruses and bacteria that endanger human health. But wildlife animals are just as susceptible to ailments as people. In fact, one parasite, the tapeworm or Echinococcus multilocularis (E.multilocularis), is wreaking havoc on the wildlife population of North America. This has given rise to the need for strategic animal control efforts to protect Durham’s residents, pets and wildlife animals from the proliferation of the parasite.
A Closer Look at Tapeworm Parasites
The tapeworm is a parasite that has a deadly impact on its host. People and animals who suffer from prolonged untreated Tapeworm infestations usually suffer fatal effects. Tapeworm usually affects mammals in the wild canid family, specifically coyotes and foxes. According to wildlife experts, coyotes and foxes contract the Tapeworm when they eat field mice or other infected rodents.
It is usually passed from these animals to other animals and, in rare cases, to people. The parasite infests other animals such as dogs and to a lesser extent cats when these animals ingest its eggs.
Coyotes, foxes, dogs, and cats act as primary or definitive carriers of the parasite. This means that the adult Tapeworm can live inside these animals without causing the animal to show symptoms of illness. This usually happens when fecal matter (from the primary or definitive host) containing the Tapeworm eggs is consumed. Human beings typically contract the parasite from their pets.
When the parasite enters the body of humans and animals it triggers an infection called Alveolar Echinococcosis. The eggs develop into larvae inside the body and trigger the infection, targeting the liver. In human beings, this causes symptoms such as Jaundice, abdominal pain and weight loss. Unfortunately, the infection often works silently, damaging the liver and surrounding structures in the body before symptoms start to appear. Infected animals and people suffer from enlarged livers as well as cysts which may contain the larvae of the parasite.
An infected animal or individual can go for years without feeling the symptoms. If it remains undetected and untreated, the ultimate result is death. It is therefore crucial for Durham’s residents and animal owners to be vigilant against this infection.
Discovery of Tapeworm in Ontario’s Wildlife Population
Durham’s officials declared the region’s wildlife free from Tapeworm in 2012 but something has changed since then because a cohort of wildlife animal remains, including samples from Durham, have been found to contain the parasite. Scientists at the University of Guelph examined 460 carcasses of Ontario’s foxes and coyotes.
Scientists have determined that the infestation has actually existed for a longer period than originally estimated and that the parasite’s presence in the region’s wildlife population is fairly well established. The research also found that roughly 25% of Ontario’s foxes and coyotes are afflicted by Tapeworm.
How to Protect Your Pet From the Tapeworm Parasite
So how can you protect your domestic pets from Tapeworm parasites? You can start by controlling the way they move, especially when outdoors. Use a leash to prevent them from ingesting things you don’t want them to take in. Some dogs, in particular, love to eat small rodents and can become infected this way. If your dog has this habit, try to keep them away from situations that allow access to rodents. Ensure that they are dewormed regularly as well.
Ultimately though, the answer lies in the expert animal control services available in Durham. Expert wildlife technicians can help you by installing devices that keep wildlife away from your property thereby lessening the likelihood of this parasite impacting you and your loved ones.