The ecology of invasion of Echinococcus multilocularis

Biological invasions are global. They impact biodiversity, community structure, and disrupt processes across ecosystems, thus leading to the emergence of human and animal diseases.

In the context of biological invasions, parasites play a key role as aetiological agents of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) and are considered biological invaders . EIDs arise when a parasite spread into a new host population leading to a disease outbreak or the establishment of a new endemism with implications for conservation, economic, and public health.

Echinococcus multilocularis is the causative agent of human alveolar echinococcosis (AE) and considered a globally emerging pathogen as one of the most serious helminthic food-borne zoonosis in the northern hemisphere. Recently, the European strain of E. multilocularis was detected in Canada in wild, domestic hosts and most recently in human infections, suggesting a possible invasion of this strain in Western Canada and the emergence of a new endemism.

Our project aims to explore the ecological factors affecting the expansion of Echinococcus multilocularis range in areas contiguous to its current distribution or the establishment of new strains through a process of invasion into geographical areas where other parasite strains were present or in new areas where the parasite was absent.

Findings

  • Mori K., S. Liccioli, D. Marceau & A. Massolo (2019). A community analysis approach to parasitic transmission in multi-host systems: assemblages of small mammal prey and Echinococcus multilocularis in an urban area in North America. International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife 9: 49-55.
  • Santa M.A., S.A. Pastran, C. Klein, P. Duignan, K. Ruckstuhl, & A. Massolo (2019) Evaluation of an automated magnetic bead-based DNA extraction and real-time PCR in faecal samples as a pre-screening test for detection of Echinococcus multilocularis and Echinococcus canadensis in coyotes. Parasitology Research 118(1): 119–125.
  • Massolo, A., D. Valli, M. Wassermann, S. Cavallero, S. D’Amelio, A. Meriggi, E. Torretta, M. Serafini, A. Casulli, L. Zambon, C.B. Boni, M. Ori, T. Romig & F. Macchioni, (2018). Unexpected Echinococcus multilocularis infections in shepherd dogs and wolves in south-western Italian Alps: A new endemic area? International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife 7(3): 309-316.
  • Santa M.A., S.A. Pastran, C. Klein, P. Duignan, K. Ruckstuhl, T. Romig & A. Massolo (2018). Detecting co-infections of Echinococcus multilocularis and Echinococcus canadensis in coyotes and red foxes in Alberta, Canada using real-time PCR. International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife 7:111-115