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Molecular and morphological characterization of Echinococcus in cervids from North America

  • R. C. A. THOMPSON (a1), A. C. BOXELL (a1), B. J. RALSTON (a2), C. C. CONSTANTINE (a3), R. P. HOBBS (a1), T. SHURY (a4) and M. E. OLSON (a5)...


Many issues concerning the taxonomy of Echinococcus have been resolved in recent years with the application of molecular tools. However, the status of Echinococcus maintained in transmission cycles involving cervid intermediate hosts remains to be determined. The recent characterization of the parasite from cervids in Finland has highlighted the paucity of data available, particularly that from North America. In this study, we have characterized a large number of Echinococcus isolates from cervids from Western Canada on the basis of morphology and molecular genetic techniques. Our results support earlier studies suggesting that Echinococcus of cervid origin is phenotypically and genetically distinct to Echinococcus maintained in domestic host assemblages, and also confirms that Echinococcus of cervid origin does not constitute a genetically homogeneous group. However, our data do not support the existence of 2 distinct genotypes (strains/subspecies) with separate geographical distributions. Our data appear to support the existence of only 1 species in cervids, but additional isolates from cervids and wolves in other endemic regions should be characterized before a final decision is made on the taxonomic status of Echinococcus in cervids.


Corresponding author

WHO Collaborating Centre for the Molecular Epidemiology of Parasitic Infections, School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, South Street, Murdoch, Western Australia 6150, Australia. Tel: +61 08 9360 2466. Fax: +61 08 93104144. E-mail:


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