Friday, December 20, 2013

Hunt contest promotes disease awareness

Tapeworm carried by wolves and elk can cause cysts in humans


By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

A coyote hunts for food in a field in Sun Valley on Wednesday morning. Photo by Roland Lane

    The organizers of a wolf- and coyote-killing contest scheduled for next week near Salmon say one of their goals is to raise awareness about hydatid disease, caused by a tapeworm whose lifecycle involves infestation in wild canids and ungulates such as elk and which can infect humans.
    According to a paper posted on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s website by State Veterinarian Mark Drew, the echinococcosis granulosus tapeworm has existed in domestic sheep in Idaho since at least the 1960s, but was first discovered in wild game animals in the state in 2006 when two cysts were found in the lungs of a mountain goat killed near Atlanta. Since then, hydatid cysts have been found in the lungs of numerous deer and elk from central Idaho. The paper states that 62 percent of wolf carcasses examined between 2006 and 2008 were found to be infected with the parasite.
    The website of Idaho for Wildlife, a statewide hunters organization hosting the predator-killing contest, states that it has recently sent five wolf carcasses from the Salmon area to Colorado State University to have them tested for the presence of E. granulosus infection, and all tested positive.
    “High incidents of the parasite in wolves and coyotes and a high infestation rate with cysts in lungs and liver of deer and elk, put at risk the ranching, farming and rural communities,” states biologist Val Geist in a post on the Idaho for Wildlife website.
    According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s website, if a human ingests E. granulosus eggs, which can be in the feces of an infected wild canid or a dog, they can hatch into larvae and form a cyst, generally in the lung or liver.
    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cysts often remain benign for years, but can grow large enough to cause discomfort, and a ruptured cyst can be fatal.
    However, Idaho State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn said a “call for cases” to infectious-disease doctors and the general medical community throughout the state in 2011 failed to identify cases of hydatid disease related to wolf exposure. She said all patients in Idaho were probably exposed to the disease in other places.
    Drew recommends against feeding uncooked elk and deer meat to dogs because the ingestion of the immature forms of E. granulosus could lead to the development of adult tapeworms in the dogs. The infected dogs can then expose humans to tapeworm eggs in dog feces.
    “The potential for human exposure to eggs of E. granulosus in the feces of infected wolves or fecal-contaminated hides is relatively low,” Drew states. “The extent of the interactions between most humans in Idaho and wolves is minimal as are the encounters with wolf feces.”
    The department recommends that hunters:

  • Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing and skinning game.
  • Thoroughly cook wild game meat.
  • Do not touch or disturb dead animals or carnivore feces.
  • Regularly deworm pet dogs.
  • Do not let pet dogs eat organs or scraps from hunter-harvested or road-killed animals.
  • Practice good hygiene—washing hands and washing contaminated clothes, especially after handling animals or feces.

    Carter Niemeyer, Idaho wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said he wears gloves when he handles live or dead animals, but he is not more concerned about hydatid disease than he is about many other possible causes of infections.
    “There are hundreds of parasites in the environment, and this is just one of them,” he said. “It makes no sense to single out this disease and frighten people about it. It’s a very rare occurrence in humans.”
    Mark Johnson, project veterinarian for the wolf reintroduction to Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in 1995, stated in a letter to the Montana Legislature in 2010 that it is “extremely unlikely” that any introduced wolf carried E. granulosus into the U.S. from Canada, since each animal was treated at least twice by a parasiticide that is 100 percent effective in removing tapeworms.
    “Reducing wolf numbers will not reduce the prevalence of the tapeworm which is carried by the ungulates and is not dependent on wolf densities,” he added.
    Shane McAfee, president of Idaho for Wildlife’s Salmon chapter, said contestants will be lucky to kill a total of one or two wolves.
    “It’s not going to be a slaughter,” he said.
    However, the group’s website states that organizers hope to take “quite a few coyotes.”




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads





Copyright © 2014 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.