Echinococcus multilocularis in North America: the great unknown

Over the last decade, studies have begun to shed light on the distribution and genetic characterization of Echinococcus multilocularis, the causative agent of alveolar echinococcosis (AE), in North America. Recent findings indicate that the parasite is likely expanding its range in the central region of the United States and Canada and that invasions of European strains might have occurred. In our review, we present the available data on E. multilocularis infections in wild and domestic animals and humans in North America and emphasize the lack of knowledge on the distribution of the parasite in wild and domestic hosts. Furthermore, we stress the need to better understand the complexity of host communities and their roles in shaping the transmission and distribution of the parasite. We hypothesize that a lack of knowledge about AE by North American physicians might result in the misdiagnosis of cases and an underestimation of disease incidence. The endemic presence of the parasite in urban areas and a recent human case in Alberta, Canada, suggest that the scientific community may need to reconsider the local public health risks, re-assess past cases that might have been overlooked and increase surveillance efforts to identify new cases of human AE.<<<Read Full Report>>>