Wolves and Hydatid Disease

This page gives information one of the many deadly diseases carried by wolves. Hydatid disease is prevalent among wolves in Idaho.

Two-thirds of Idaho wolf carcasses examined have thousands of hydatid disease tapeworms.



What Is Hydatid Disease (Echinococcosis)
Editorial, February 15, 2010

Echinococcosis, also known as Hydatid Disease, is a potentially fatal parasitic disease caused by tapeworm of the genus Echinococcus – including Echinococcus granulosus and Echinococcus multilocularis, both of which are being found in North America in increasing regularity and increasing geographical areas.

Dr. Val Geist and Dr. Will Graves have written about the dangers of wolves and Hydatid Disease but their writings have been downplayed by some experts and agencies. After reading numerous writings concerning Hydatid Disease I felt compelled to provide these same materials to the general public for consideration of what actions might be taken to help prevent the spread of Hydatid Disease into Washington or any other states.

Echinococcus granulosus and Echinococcus multilocularis can infect wild animals, pets, livestock, and humans. The life cycle for these tapeworms requires a “definitive host” such as wolves, foxes, or dogs and an “intermediate host” deer, elk, domestic livestock, rodents, or even humans. The adult tapeworms are attached to the intestines of the “definitive host” and lay hundreds of eggs which are dispersed in feces by the host animal across the countryside. Animals and rodents grazing where egg infested feces are on the ground can unknowingly ingest the eggs which hatch in the “intermediate host” intestine. The hatched larvae penetrates the intestinal wall, gets into the circulatory system, and migrates to liver, lungs, heart, or even the brain, where the larvae develops a protective cyst and begins growing. When an infected “intermediate host” is consumed by a carnivore “definitive host” the cysts from the organs of “intermediate host” develop into adult tapeworms in the intestines of the new “definitive host” and the life cycle begins again.

Research data indicates that 62% and 63% of the wolves tested in Idaho and Montanarespectively between 2006 and 2008 were infected with the tapeworm(Echinococcus granulosus). While it is unknown if the transplanted Canadian wolves (a known carrier) introduced the parasite, or if the parasite which was previously undetected in Idaho and Montana was brought in by migrating wolves, or if the parasite was present and undiscovered in resident prey species. What is known is that even though the USFWS claim they wormed all the imported wolves before release, wolves in Idaho and Montana now have a high infection rate ofEchinococcus granulosus and some prey species such as deer, elk, and goat in Idaho and Montana are also known to be infected with Echinococcus granulosus, so the complete life cycle of Echinococcus granulosus seems to be occurring in Idaho and Montana.

This Raises An Important Question:
Exactly How Can Humans, Pets, and Livestock Become Infected With Hydatid Disease?      

Livestock grazing in areas where wolves may have left egg infested feces may become infected. Anyone who lives, works, recreates, owns pets, and gathers food from areas where Hydatid Disease exists in wild animal populations bears a risk of infection. Hunters, trappers, taxidermists, veterinarians, wildlife professionals, ranchers, farmers, and others who handle animals in areas where wild animals are infected with these parasites bear a higher risk of infection.

Hydatid Disease affects people all over the world, especially those who work and live with animals. Humans can get infected by eating food or drinking water which is contaminated. Adults or children can become infected by handling animals without practicing a high level of hygiene during and after contact. Hand to mouth transmission can occur after handling an infected canine. (Canines naturally lick their anus and then lick other parts of their bodies, potentially spreading eggs onto their fur.)

This Raises Another Important Question: 
Wolves Are Migrating Into Neighboring States From Idaho and Montana, Should Wolf Colonization Into New Areas And Overall Wolf Numbers Be Controlled To Prevent The Spread of Echinococcus Granulosus and Echinococcus multilocularis and the threat of Hydatid Disease at least until more is known about these parasites and the impact Hydatid Disease could have in the western United States?

Read Supporting Data:

Hydatid Disease:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydatid_disease 
Echinococcus granulosus:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echinococcus_granulosus
Echinococcus multilocularis:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echinococcus_multilocularis
World Health Organization:   http://www.who.int/zoonoses/diseases/echinococcosis/en/

Journal of Wildlife Disease:   http://www.jwildlifedis.org/cgi/content/abstract/45/4/1208
Center For Disease Control:   http://www.dpd.cdc.gov/dpdx/html/Echinococcosis.htm
Health Protection Agency:   http://www.hpa.org.uk/webw/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1195733825727?p=1191942169797 
Canadian Medical Association:   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1822812/?page=1
Overview, Transmission, Prevention:   http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/Documents/719/Hydatid disease 2007.pdf

17 Cases Diagnosed in Winnipeg, Manitoba:   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2094814/
42 Cases Diagnosed in Edmonton, Alberta:   http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2334/5/34
337 Cases in United States & Canada:   http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/pdf_extract/25/1/107 
Transmission:   http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=6B5E486F15B8C90917017A872BAE404A.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=209238 
Amerian College of Chest Physicians:   http://chestjournal.chestpubs.org/content/56/2/160.full.pdf

Wolves And The Spread Of Disease:   http://wolvesinrussia.com/ 
Distribution In Northwestern Canada:   http://www.ajtmh.org/cgi/content/abstract/5/5/869  
Hydatid Disease In Boreal Regions:   http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic5-3-157.pdf 
Outdoor Warning:  
http://mainehuntingtoday.com/bbb/2009/12/10/a-warning-to-outdoor-users-about-echinococcus-from-worms/ Education: http://mainehuntingtoday.com/bbb/2010/01/19/hydatid-disease-isnt-about-fear-but-about-health-and-education/ 

Synopsis Hydatid Disease:   http://westinstenv.org/wildpeop/2010/02/07/synopsis-of-wolf-borne-hydatid-disease/ 
Hydatid Disease Medications:   http://www.pharmacyescrow.com/pd678-s-hydatid-disease.aspx 
Surgical Treatment Hydatid Disease:   
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2020668/?tool=pmcentrez Implications For Vaccine Development:  http://www.jimmunol.org/cgi/content/abstract/181/10/6679 
Brain Hydatid Cyst Neuro-Surgery:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfNWBo1toY0