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Acta Parasitologica, Vol.44, No. 1, 1999, 68-72
Malczewski Andrzej (1), Ramisz Alojzy (2), Rocki Boguslaw (1), Bienko Renata (2), Balicka-Ramisz Aleksandra (2), Eckert Johannes (3) - Echinococcus multilocularis in red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in Poland: an update of the epidemiological situation.

(1) W. Stefanski Institute of Parasitology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Twarda 51/55, 00-818 Warszawa; (2) Department of Animal Hygiene and Reproduction, Agricultural University, Dr Judym 6, 71-466 Szczecin, Poland; (3) Institute of Parasitology and WHO Collaborating Centre for Parasitic Zoonoses, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstr. 266a, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland

Echinococcus multilocularis, an intestinal cestode parasite of foxes and other carnivores, is the causative agent of human alveolar echinococcosis which is a lethal infection in a high percentage of untreated patients. After the first record of E. multilocularis in foxes in Poland in 1995 by our group further epidemiological studies were performed. During the study period (October 1993 until March 1998) 2,951 red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were sampled in 43 of the 49 districts (voivodships), representing approximately 280,000 km² or 89% of the whole territory of Poland. The average sampling density was 10.5 foxes per 1,000 km². Foxes infected with E. multilocularis were found in 18 of the 43 districts (42%), with more affected districts in the northern part (15 of 22) than in the southern part (3 of 21). The average prevalence of E. multilocularis in all districts where foxes had been sampled was low at 2.6%. The north-west, south-west and south-east regions of the country had low average prevalences from 0.4 to 2.2% but a higher prevalence of 11.8% was found in the north-east region. Prevalences varied widely between districts, reaching highest values of 20 and 36% in two of the north-eastern districts. It is concluded that E. multilocularis represents a potential infection risk to humans in wide areas of Poland but the true risk cannot be defined at present. Further studies are needed in order to obtain a more complete epidemiological picture.

KEY WORDS: Echinococcus multilocularis, epidemiology, Vulpes vulpes
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