Transmission ecology of Echinococcus multilocularis: what are the ranges of parasite stability among various host communities in China?

Parasitol Int. 2006:55 Suppl:S237-46. doi: 10.1016/j.parint.2005.11.036. Epub 2005 Dec 19.


A striking feature of the transmission ecology of Echinococcus multilocularis in China is the diversity of hosts that contribute to the parasite cycle. Considering the population dynamics of key reservoir intermediate hosts and the ratio of their preferred habitat in a landscape (ROMPA) is essential to understanding transmission, but the numerous communities in which the parasite cycles and the extent of those communities is currently far from being fully documented. On the Tibetan plateau grassland management influences intermediate host species populations and the sheer size of the area could be a major contributing factor to sustaining transmission in the region. In Southern Gansu and Southern Ningxia the processes of deforestation have temporarily provided optimal habitat for key reservoir intermediate hosts of E. multilocularis, resulting in high transmission and human disease, however currently the parasite may be extinct locally. Faced with this pattern of potentially transient transmission in a diversity of communities the question of the dispersal potential of the parasite arises. The reforestation program currently active across much of Western China has the potential to give rise to a massive increase in habitat favourable to suitable intermediate hosts and emergence or re-emergence of the zoonosis alveolar echinococcosis in many areas. This potential epidemic could be mitigated by both natural and human induced parasite dispersal mechanisms including fox migration and the sale of infected dogs originating from stable endemic foci on the Tibetan plateau. However, currently the degree of genetic exchange between discrete transmission foci is unknown and it is expected that genetic techniques could provide crucial information regarding this important question.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • China / epidemiology
  • Echinococcosis / epidemiology
  • Echinococcosis / parasitology
  • Echinococcosis / transmission*
  • Echinococcus multilocularis / physiology*
  • Ecology
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Lagomorpha / parasitology*
  • Rodentia / parasitology*