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Parasitol Int. 2006;55 Suppl:S187-91. Epub 2005 Dec 13.

The present situation of echinococcosis in Europe.

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University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.


The taxonomy of Echinococcus is presently undergoing major changes, the paraphyletic Echinococcus granulosus being split into several distinct species. In this review, an attempt is made to assess the present epidemiological situation in Europe separately for each species (Echinococcus multilocularis, Echinococcus granulosus sensu stricto, Echinococcus equinus, Echinococcus ortleppi, and Echinococcus sp.). For E. multilocularis, an increasing density of infected host animals is apparent in central Europe, and, possibly, a range increase has occurred. Prevalence rates in foxes have risen in many agriculturally dominated landscapes of France, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland, but the lifecycle is now also established in many urban areas, where red foxes occur with high population densities. E. granulosus s. s. (the former 'sheep strain') is still frequent and a public health problem in many parts of the Mediterranean region and re-emergence after failed control campaigns is observed or suspected in Bulgaria and Wales. No recent data on the cattle-transmitted E. ortleppi and the horse-transmitted E. equinus are available, but their relevance for human health seems to be minor. The same may apply to the 'pig strain' and the newly described 'European cervid strain', which both belong to a cluster of genotypes whose taxonomy is not yet resolved (Echinococcus sp.).

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