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Echinococcus multilocularis on Svalbard: introduction of an intermediate host has enabled the local life-cycle

  • H. HENTTONEN (a1), E. FUGLEI (a2), C. N. GOWER (a3), V. HAUKISALMI (a1), R. A. IMS (a4), J. NIEMIMAA (a1) and N. G. YOCCOZ (a5)...

Abstract

The taeniid tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis is here reported for the first time at the Svalbard Archipelago in the Norwegian Arctic. This new finding is interesting because the establishment of E. multilocularis is due to a recent anthropogenic introduction of its intermediate host – the sibling vole Microtus rossiaemeridionalis at Svalbard. The parasite itself has probably become naturally transferred to Svalbard due to migratory movements of its final host – the arctic fox Alopex lagopus between source areas for E. multilocularis in Siberia and Svalbard. We report macroscopically determined prevalence of E. multilocularis from a sample of 224 voles trapped in August in 1999 and 2000. The prevalence was among the highest ever recorded in intermediate hosts and was dependent on age and sex of the hosts approaching 100% in overwintered males. The high prevalence and the simplicity of the vole – arctic fox – E. multilocularis system at Svalbard makes it an eminent model system for further epidemiological studies.

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Corresponding author

Corresponding author: Vantaa Research Centre, Finnish Forest Research Institute, POB 18, FIN-01301 Vantaa, Finland. Tel: +358 9 85705477. Fax: +358 9 85705531. E-mail: Heikki.Henttonen@metla.fi

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