Sudbury

New parasite making its way into Ontario, Sudbury veterinarian warns

A new parasite is starting to show up more often in Ontario.

Dr. Darren Stinson says getting your dog dewormed regularly will help avoid the spread.

Fox tapeworm cases are starting to be reported in Ontario. (Jake Paleczny/Yukon Wildlife Preserve)

A new parasite is starting to show up more often in Ontario.

Dr. Darren Stinson, veterinarian at the Chelmsford Animal Hospital, says cases of Echinococcus Multilocularis, known as fox tapeworm, are starting to be reported in southern Ontario.

"Prior to a couple of years ago we didn't believe it actually existed in Ontario," he said.

Then, he says a researcher in southern Ontario came across a couple of cases. A study was done to see which wild dog in Ontario carried the parasite.

They looked at foxes, coyotes and wolves.

Stinson says they found 23 per cent of those animals had the parasite.

"The standard life-cycle of this particular tapeworm is that the eggs are shed in the feces of the infected animal," he said.

"Then, the eggs are ingested by smaller animals [such as a rabbit] who are maybe eating grass around where the feces were deposited."

For an animal that contracts the parasite, Stinson says cysts will start growing inside different organs or muscles. If a fox or wolf eats a small animal with the parasite, they will contract the adult tapeworm form.

Darren Stinson is a veterinarian based in Sudbury. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Stinson says the risk for dogs is coming into contact with eggs from feces of an infected animal.

"In dogs and in people they form very large cysts that act like space occupying masses or tumours in different organs," he said.

He says humans are at risk while working outside if they come into contact with infected eggs.

Stinson says the best preventative approach is to get regular deworming done for your dog.

"Because they key is if the dog develops the adult form and is shedding eggs around your environment, you could be picking up those eggs just by handling your pet," he said.

He adds humans should practice good hygiene while working outdoors to avoid contracting the parasite.

Our conversation with veterinarian Darren Stinson centered around the dangers of fox tapeworm. The parasite hasn't appeared in the north yet but is being seen in southern Ontario. Darren had more information about how it can spread from your dog to you. 5:14

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