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Journal Articles Veterinary Parasitology : Regional Studies and Reports Year : 2022

Towards delimitation of the Echinococcus multilocularis parasite's southernmost range in France

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Abstract

Alveolar echinococcosis is a severe, potentially fatal, parasitic disease caused by ingestion of microscopic eggs of Echinococcus multilocularis. The lifecycle of the parasite is essentially sylvatic, and based on a prey-predator relationship between red foxes and small rodents. A westward expansion from the eastern historical focus has been reported in France, though the parasite has also been detected in the southern Alps. While the focus in the Auvergne region (central France) was described in the 1980s, the southern delimitation of the actual endemic area, especially in the south, was unknown in the absence of dedicated surveys. Red fox samples were collected from 2013 to 2020 in the framework of other transversal epidemiological studies in five sampling areas from southwestern and southeastern France. One hundred and seven intestines were analysed by SSCT, and 221 faecal samples from intestines were analysed by copro-qPCR. None of the 328 foxes exhibited E. multilocularis worms or DNA. Although the presence of E. multilocularis cannot be totally excluded in the departments from the study areas, the sample size tested argues for an absence of the parasite in these studied areas, which is in accordance with the currently known endemic situation in France. These new data are helpful in determining the southernmost limit of E. multilocularis distribution in France. The warm, dry Mediterranean climate in the southeastern areas is less favourable to the transmission of E. multilocularis and especially to the survival of eggs in the environment than the climate in the French Alps or Liguria (Italy) climate where the parasite is present. The intermediate area between the southwestern study areas and the historical focus of Auvergne, which is separated by around 150 km, will be investigated in the coming years. Moreover, an ongoing national surveillance programme on E. multilocularis in foxes is targeting French departements along the edge of the known endemic area both in the southeast and southwest. The data produced will supplement the results of this study, thus greatly helping to define the current distribution of E. multilocularis in France and to target prevention measures to reduce human exposure.
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anses-03627080 , version 1 (01-04-2022)

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Gérald Umhang, Céline Richomme, Christophe Caillot, Vanessa Bastid, Jean-Marc Boucher, et al.. Towards delimitation of the Echinococcus multilocularis parasite's southernmost range in France. Veterinary Parasitology : Regional Studies and Reports, 2022, 30, pp.100724. ⟨10.1016/j.vprsr.2022.100724⟩. ⟨anses-03627080⟩

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