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Research finds pets may be spreading parasite found in Alberta coyotes and foxes

Last Updated Jul 25, 2019 at 12:02 pm MDT

(CREDIT: freeimages.com)

CALGARY – Man’s best friends may be spreading a potentially deadly parasite originally from Europe.

Research led by the University of Calgary’s faculty of veterinary medicine has found a strain of tiny tapeworm that can make people seriously ill has become common in Alberta wildlife.

Researchers say six people in Alberta have been diagnosed with the potentially fatal parasite since 2016.

Recent studies have found a high incidence of infected coyotes, foxes, and rodents across the province, including in urban off-leash dog parks in Calgary.

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The tapeworm is spread through the feces of coyotes and foxes that have eaten infected rodents.

Dogs and cats can get the parasite in turn through contact with the feces or by eating infected rodents.

The worm can be passed on to people on fruit, by handling contaminated soil or through an infected pet’s fur.

It develops slowly over several years and causes multiplying lesions in the body, usually in the liver.

It can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated in time.