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Parasitology. 2009 Sep;136(10):1089-95. doi: 10.1017/S0031182009990461.

Echinococcus species in African wildlife.

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  • 1University of Hohenheim, Department of Parasitology, Emil-Wolff-Strasse 34, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany.


Cystic echinococcosis, caused by different species of the Echinococcus granulosus complex, is an important zoonotic disease with a particular impact on pastoralist societies. In addition to the widespread taxa with synanthropic transmission, a number of Echinococcus species were described from African wild carnivores early in the 20th century. For lack of study material, most of these were later tentatively synonymized with E. granulosus. Early infection experiments with wildlife isolates gave ambiguous results due to the use of unspecified parasite material, and only recently molecular methods provided the opportunity to shed light on the confusing scenery e.g. by characterizing E. felidis from the African lion. Here we will summarize the convoluted history of Echinococcus research in sub-Saharan Africa and highlight the necessity of molecular surveys to establish the life cycles and estimate the zoonotic potential of these parasites.

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