Transmission ecosystems of Echinococcus multilocularis in China and Central Asia

Parasitology. 2013 Nov;140(13):1655-66. doi: 10.1017/S0031182013000644. Epub 2013 Jun 5.


From continental to regional scales, the zoonosis alveolar echinococcosis (AE) (caused by Echinococcus multilocularis) forms discrete patches of endemicity within which transmission hotspots of much larger prevalence may occur. Since the late 80s, a number of hotspots have been identified in continental Asia, mostly in China, wherein the ecology of intermediate host communities has been described. This is the case in south Gansu, at the eastern border of the Tibetan plateau, in south Ningxia, in the western Tian Shan of Xinjiang, and in the Alay valley of south Kyrgyzstan. Here we present a comparative natural history and characteristics of transmission ecosystems or ecoscapes. On this basis, regional types of transmission and their ecological characteristics have been proposed in a general framework. Combining climatic, land cover and intermediate host species distribution data, we identified and mapped 4 spatially distinct types of transmission ecosystems typified by the presence of one of the following small mammal 'flagship' species: Ellobius tancrei, Ochotona curzoniae, Lasiopodomys brandtii or Eospalax fontanierii. Each transmission ecosystem had its own characteristics which can serve as a reference for further in-depth research in the transmission ecology of E. multilocularis. This approach may be used at fine spatial scales to characterize other poorly known transmission systems of the large Eurasian endemic zone, and help in consideration of surveillance systems and interventions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animal Distribution
  • Animals
  • Arvicolinae / parasitology*
  • Asia, Central / epidemiology
  • China / epidemiology
  • DNA, Helminth / genetics*
  • Disease Vectors
  • Echinococcosis
  • Echinococcosis, Hepatic / epidemiology
  • Echinococcosis, Hepatic / parasitology
  • Echinococcosis, Hepatic / transmission*
  • Echinococcosis, Hepatic / veterinary*
  • Echinococcus multilocularis / genetics
  • Echinococcus multilocularis / isolation & purification*
  • Ecosystem
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Host Specificity
  • Humans
  • Lagomorpha / parasitology*
  • Phylogeography
  • Species Specificity
  • Wolves / parasitology*


  • DNA, Helminth

Supplementary concepts

  • Alveolar echinococcosis