Echinococcus: One Parasite’s Rise Amidst the Soviet Union’s Decline

Discover Magazine’s Rebecca Kreston writes about some key public health issues surrounding dogs and humans from an historical and a contemporary context.

“The state of veterinary health is too rarely considered as an integral component of human public health, but the two are intimately intertwined: what infects farm animals, domestic pets and flying fowl often affects us two-legged mammals as well, as outbreaks of SARS, swine flu, and West Nile Virus have repeatedly shown us.

The parasitic tapeworm Echinococcus, which infects canine predators, also follows this trend and relies on the ancient relationship between humans and herding canines.

It infects canids, such as foxes, wolves, and domestic dogs that feast on the carcasses of herbivores, typically sheep or cattle. These gentle intermediate hosts harbor the larval form of the worm, which they pick up while grazing and ingesting the parasite’s eggs that had been previously excreted in canid feces, a perfectly endless ouroboros, if you will, charting the tapeworm’s life cycle.”

Follow Rebecca’s Body Horrors article at Discover Magazine here.

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