Understanding transmission and control of Cystic Echinococcosis and other taeniid infections in the Falkland Islands

West, D 2021, Understanding transmission and control of Cystic Echinococcosis and other taeniid infections in the Falkland Islands , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Cystic echinococcosis, caused by the larval form of the cestode parasite Echinococcus granulosus, has been identified as an important public health risk in the Falkland Islands since the early 1940s. This prompted the instigation of an intensive control scheme in the mid-1960s, comprised of regular dosing of domestic dogs with the anthelmintic praziquantel and education of local people about safe disposal of potentially infected offal. This scheme has remained in place to the current day and is generally considered to be a successful programme– resulting in a reduction in the prevalence of infection in sheep has reduced from >50% in the 1950s to less than 1 % now and there has not been a case of human hydatid disease for more than 20 years. However, concerns remain that hydatid cysts are still identified in a small number of sheep at slaughter (0.004% in 2017) and occurring every year subsequently suggesting transmission is still occurring. This is also supported by the observation that sheep continue to be infected at higher levels with the (non-zoonotic) cestode Taenia hydatigena, also transmitted by dogs. In 2010, all dogs on the Falkland Islands were tested by Copro-PCR, resulting in eight dogs (1.4%) testing positive. The dog population was tested again in 2012, where there were no cases but when tested in 2014 by Coproantigen testing, six (1.04%) were positive for E. granulosus coproantigens. This project used questionnaires, coproantigen and coproPCR analysis, abattoir data surveillance, DNA sequencing, environmental sample analysis and mathematical modelling to study Echinococcus granulosus and other taeniids endemic in the Falklands and investigate how their continued transmission can occur in the face of the prolonged intensive control programme. A questionnaire survey identified possible methods of disposal of offal that in a previous study, were associated with canine coproantigen positivity. The entire dog population was analysed via coproantigen techniques in 2018, and four (0.68%) dogs were coproantigen positive, though none of these were confirmed by PCR. From 2018 to 2020, five cases of CE were identified in sheep at the Sand Bay abattoir in the Falklands (0.01%), with one of the cases coming from a positive farm in 2018. There were two cases from farms with positive dogs in 2010 and one from a farm with a positive dog in 2014. To investigate environmental contamination on farms and potentially identify historical dog infections, soil samples taken from kennel sites were analysed for the presence of coproantigens, with five farms having positive results, one farm matching with a positive dog in 2018. To identify key processes fuelling the transmission of E. granulosus in the Falklands, a mechanically informed compartmental model was created, estimating the basic reproduction number (R0) for the parasite, and identifying scenarios where this estimate increased above one suggesting continued transmission could occur. Seven scenarios where lapses in control measures could result in the R0 estimate increasing above one and continued transmission of E. granulosus could occur. The results of this project show clear evidence of dogs still being involved in the transmission of taeniid parasites in the Falklands, with key areas of the eradication programme such as the inadequate disposal of offal and dogs gaining access to offal allowing the transmission cycle to be completed and transmission of E. granulosus and other taeniids to occur. Rectifying these lapses in control measures and focussing control and surveillance to a more localised control approach will help strengthen the control programme and move the Falklands closer towards the complete eradication of Cystic Echinococcosis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Rogan, MT (Supervisor), Mastin, A (Supervisor), Randhawa, H (Supervisor) and Pointing, S (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences
Funders: Falkland Island Government
Depositing User: Dominic West
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2022 11:44
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2022 02:30
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/62771

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