RESEARCH PAPER
Occurrence of Echinococcus spp. in red foxes and wolves in the protected area of the Tatra National Park in southern Poland – a threat to human health
 
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1
W. Stefański Institute of Parasitology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
2
Tatra National Park, Poland
3
Department of General Biology and Parasitology, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
4
Faculty of Medicine, Collegium Medicum, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR
Jakub Gawor   

Institute of Parasitology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Twarda 51/55, 00-818, Warsaw, Poland
 
 
KEYWORDS
TOPICS
ABSTRACT
Introduction:
Echinococcus multilocularis has been endemic in red foxes in eastern and central parts of Europe, and E. granulosus s. l. identified in wolves in some countries. In recent years, wolves hale emerged as potentially important definitive hosts of E. multilocularis.

Objective:
This aim of the survey was to record indirectly using nested-PCR test with faecal samples the presence of Echinococcus multilocularis and E. granulosus s. l. in the two species of wild canids in the protected area of the Tatra National Park (TNP) in Western Carpathian, southern mountainous part of Poland.

Material and methods:
From February to June 2019, experienced staff of TNP randomly collected fox and wolf faeces on and off hiking trails at altitudes from 850 m to 2,000 m above sea level. In total, 91 faecal samples from red foxes and 19 from wolves were collected. Genomic DNA was obtained by direct extraction from faecal samples using a commercial kit, and from taeniid eggs retrieved from the same samples after flotation.

Results:
A nested PCR screening of 91 red fox faeces indicated the prevalence of E. multilocularis of 4.4%. Positive samples were confirmed by sequencing parts of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene (cox1). Neither genomic DNA of E. multilocularis nor of E. granulosus s.l. was obtained from 19 wolves faeces, nor from taeniid eggs retrieved from these samples by initial flotation.

Conclusions:
The current results show that humans might be exposed to a risk of fox tapeworm infection in nature, even at high altitude inan alpine zone, in an environment contaminated by roaming red foxes encouraged by food leftovers on mountain trails.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors would like to thank the staff of Tatra National Park, especially Jarosław Rabiasz and Józef Bobak for the collection of faecal samples. Research was partly financed from the resources of the Polish State Forests Forest Fund.
 
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