Echinococcus multilocularis (E. multil) is a tapeworm that lives in coyotes, foxes, and sometimes dogs and cats. It is spread in the environment by the stool (poop) of infected animals.
The risk of people getting AE in Alberta is very low. Since 2013, there have been a small number of reported cases in the province.
Research in Alberta has shown that many coyotes and foxes can have the E. multi tapeworm. They often live close to houses and parks, which can put people and their pets at higher risk of exposure to this tapeworm. But even in places in North America where the tapeworm is common in animals, it’s rare that people get it.
When coyotes, foxes, dogs, or cats eat an infected rodent, the larvae grow into the adult tapeworms in the animal's intestine. The adult tapeworms make new eggs. These leave the animal in their stool, starting the lifecycle all over again. Adult tapeworms do not cause any symptoms or health problems in the coyote, fox, dog, or cat.
When a person accidentally swallows the tapeworm eggs, they may get cyst-like damage, most often in their liver. This damage grows slowly and may not cause any symptoms for years. When symptoms appear, they may include:
AE is complicated to treat and can cause death if not treated. Surgery is the most common form of treatment for AE. After surgery, you may need medicine to keep the cyst from growing back.
The best ways to prevent AE are to:
For more information on AE, see:
Current as of: May 10, 2022
Author: Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Alberta Health
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