Echinococcus in the wild carnivores and stray dogs of northern Tunisia: the results of a pilot survey

Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 2009 Jun;103(4):323-31. doi: 10.1179/136485909X440836.


Echinococcus granulosus is endemic throughout Tunisia and E. multilocularis has previously been reported as the cause of two cases of human alveolar echinococcosis in the north-west of the country. The aim of the present study was to screen wild carnivores from the north-western Jendouba governorate and semi-stray dogs from the Siliana and Sejnane regions of northern Tunisia for these two zoonotic cestodes. The results of the coproscopy, coproELISA and coproPCR that were undertaken were compared with those of necropsy, where possible. Overall, 111 faecal samples (51 from wild carnivores and 60 from stray dogs) were tested by coproELISA for Echinococcus antigen and by coproPCR for E. granulosus and E. multilocularis species-specific DNA. All 60 dogs and seven of the wild carnivores were necropsied. Eleven (18.4%) of the dogs and one golden jackal (Canis aureus) were found positive for E. granulosus at necropsy. The jackal was found to be carrying 72 E. granulosus tapeworms, which were confirmed to be of the common sheep-dog (G1) genotype. Faecal samples from 10 (19.6%) of the wild carnivores--putatively, four golden jackals, two red foxes (Vulpes vulpes atlantica), one hyaena (Hyaena hyaena) and three genets (Genetta genetta)--gave a positive result in the Echinococcus coproELISA. In the coproPCR-based follow-up, E. granulosus DNA was detected in faecal samples from five jackals, two foxes and six stray dogs. The DNA of E. multilocularis was not, however, detected in any of the faecal samples investigated. This is the first report from Tunisia of (coproPCR-)confirmed E. granulosus infections in golden jackals and red foxes. The possible role of such wild hosts in the transmission of E. granulosus in Tunisia should be investigated further. The possibility of the active transmission of E. multilocularis in Tunisia still remains an open question.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / parasitology*
  • Carnivora / parasitology*
  • DNA, Helminth / analysis
  • Dog Diseases / parasitology*
  • Dogs
  • Echinococcosis / transmission
  • Echinococcosis / veterinary*
  • Echinococcus granulosus / genetics
  • Echinococcus granulosus / isolation & purification*
  • Echinococcus multilocularis / genetics
  • Echinococcus multilocularis / isolation & purification*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Foxes / parasitology
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Parasite Egg Count
  • Pilot Projects
  • Species Specificity
  • Tunisia


  • DNA, Helminth