The significance of rodent communities for the distribution of Echinococcus multilocularis

A research project in the framework of EMIDA ERA-NET

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Background

The emerging parasite Echinococcus multilocularis causes the severe and chronic disease alveolar echinococcosis (AE) in humans, which behaves as a slow-growing malignant tumour. The adult intestinal tapeworm is mainly found in canids (definitive hosts), such as foxes and dogs, which excrete the pathogenic eggs with their faeces. For the completion of the parasites life cycle, small rodents (intermediate hosts), typically voles ingest the eggs and develop the parasite’s larval stage.

 

Aims

The overall aim of this project is to improve our understanding about the role of different wild rodent communities for the life-cycle of Echinococcus multilocularis, thereby providing fundamental knowledge to forecast the risk for Echinococcus multilocularis infections and spread in different countries and to identify key factors limiting the parasite transmission.

 

Major project aims are to increase the basic understanding of how different wild rodents respond on Echinococcus multilocularis infection including knowledge of the parasite infection dynamics and reproduction in certain intermediate rodents hosts. Furthermore, the research project should elucidate how the distribution of certain rodent species and the predation by foxes on these species determines the distribution of this zoonotic parasite.