Risk factors for Echinococcus multilocularis intestinal infections in owned domestic dogs in a North American metropolis (Calgary, Alberta)

Sci Rep. 2024 Mar 1;14(1):5066. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-55515-6.


Human alveolar echinococcosis is increasingly documented in Alberta, Canada. Its causative agent, Echinococcus multilocularis (Em), can be transmitted to humans by infected dogs. We assessed the prevalence and associated risk factors for Em infections in domestic dogs in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. In this cross-sectional study that coupled collection and assessment of dog feces with a survey on potential risk factors, 13 of 696 (Bayesian true prevalence, 2.4%; 95% CrI: 1.3-4.0%) individual dogs' feces collected during August and September 2012 were qPCR positive for Em. Sequencing two of these cases indicated that both were from the same Em European strain responsible for human infections in Alberta. Likelihood of intestinal Em was 5.6-times higher in hounds than other breeds, 4.6-times higher in dogs leashed at dog parks than those allowed off-leash, 3.1-times higher in dogs often kept in the backyard during spring and summer months than those rarely in the yard, and 3.3-times higher in dogs living in neighbourhoods bordering Bowmont park than those in other areas of Calgary. This situation warrants surveillance of dog infections as a preventative measure to reduce infections in North America.

Keywords: Echinococcus multilocularis; Alveolar echinococcosis; Canada; Cross-sectional study; Domestic dogs; Intestinal echinococcosis.

MeSH terms

  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Animals
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dogs
  • Echinococcosis*
  • Echinococcus multilocularis* / genetics
  • Humans
  • North America
  • Risk Factors

Supplementary concepts

  • Alveolar echinococcosis