Wild dogs in Australia the latest vectors in disease outbreak

July 13, 2011AUSTRALIA – Dingo feces has been linked to a spike in medical cases of a deadly cystic parasite that has been found as big as a football in the liver and lungs of humans. Scientists are investigating cases in Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and Townsville, where wild dogs encroaching on urban sprawl have spread the potentially lethal hydatid disease into the human population. “Dingo poo is not good stuff,” Charles Sturt University lead researcher Dr. David Jenkins said. “You can lose chunks of the liver and a whole lung because major surgery is the only way to cut out these fluid-filled cysts.” He said the worry was that because it took 10 to 15 years before the cyst grew to an identifiable size, it was only the tip of human cases being reported. “As there is more contact, we expect to see a bigger spike in cases,” he said. Australia, on average, has 100 new cases a year of hydatid disease caused by a tiny tapeworm, Echinococcus granulosus, passed from the gut of the wild dog into the environment. There are 10 cases in Queensland yearly, with the latest victim a Sunshine Coast Regional Council worker, who contracted the disease in the trapping and control of dingoes near Maroochydore. Dr. Jenkins outlined his research as part of a three-day Australian Parasitology Conference with 200 fellow experts in Cairns this week. “Wild dogs are getting more brazen and coming into towns, raiding garbage bins, eating and fighting with domestic pets and leaving behind dingo poo,” he told The Courier-Mail. “The eggs can stay alive for a year and are transmitted by inhaling, hand-mouth contact or from petting or kissing domestic pets. –Courier Mail
contributed by Gen
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