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Safe Schools?

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PART 1 of 2


By Lynn Stuter
February 16, 2010

Last week, my article addressed the reality of the introduction of the Canadian Gray Wolf to the contiguous United States; the diseases these wolves carry and are carrying, the implications for the human population; and the reality of the vicious predatory nature of this apex predator (predator without any natural enemies).

Since I write to inform and educate, I feel compelled to address and further expand on one statement made in that article —

"This tapeworm is of a different variety. This tapeworm is a three-millimeter-long tapeworm known as Echinococcus granulosus which causes a disease called Alveolar Hydatid Disease (also known as Cystic Hydatid Disease). The disease presents in the form of cysts in vital organs such as the liver, lungs and brain. The disease can be asymptomatic, growing and spreading for years without detection. Alveolar Hydatid Disease presented a 70% mortality rate in 1980 among Alaskan Eskimos diagnosed. More recently, some success has been achieved in treating the disease without surgery."

Obviously, this was my understanding when I wrote this. I was, however, contacted by a colleague who stated that Alveolar Hydatid Disease and Cystic Hydatid Disease are not the same; are not caused by the same parasite. Further research produced a mixed bag of results. As such, I requested clarification from Dr Geist, Professional Biologist, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science, University of Calgary.

Information provided by Dr Geist and addition research helped clarify. There are two types of parasites, of the tapeworm family, that cause Hydatid Disease.

One parasite is Echinoccoccus granulosus which causes Cystic Hydatid Disease which presents in two forms: pastoral (rural) and sylvatic (sylvan: wooded or wild area). Cystic hydatid disease grows large single cysts, unless there are multiple infections, in which case there are several cysts. Once cysts grow, they may rupture in an active person, leading in some cases, to instant death because the contents are highly allergenic resulting in anaphylactic shock. Secondary infections are problematic if cysts burst in the body or are accidentally breached during surgical removal. Cystic hydatid disease is also lethal if the cyst is growing in the brain. In some individuals, cysts calcify and are carried by the person infected with minor medical problems. It all depends where the cysts implant and how many there are. Hydatid cysts can remain asymptomatic for years.

The pastoral form of Echinoccoccus granulosus cycles tightly between herding dogs, the definitive host, and sheep, the intermediate host. Herding dogs become infected when they feed on offal from infected sheep. The dog scat then returns the eggs to the sheep habitat where the sheep ingest the eggs in grazing. Humans come in contact with this form, most often, by petting and handling infected herding dogs. Wolves, coyotes and fox can also contract this form by eating the offal of infected sheep; spreading it, as a result, to ungulates. Humans are considered an intermediate host.

The sylvatic form of Echinoccocus granulosus cycles between canids (wolf, fox, coyote, dogs) who are considered the definitive host and ungulates (hoofed animals) which are considered the intermediate host. Like the pastoral form, ungulates become infected by grazing where infected scat is found. Ungulates not only include elk, deer, antelope, caribou, big horn sheep and moose, but also cattle, sheep, horses and pigs. How humans most often become infected is when dogs feed on offal of infected animals, become infected, and spread the eggs in their scat left on lawns, in flowerbeds, gardens, driveways and barnyards where it is subject to being carried into the home on the bottoms of shoes, on vegetables and fruits, on hands and clothing.


Infection can also occur from the fur and feet of dogs on floors and furniture inside the home, and from petting and handling dogs. This is more apt to occur in the rural setting where dogs roam freely than in more densely populated areas like cities or towns where dogs are more apt to be restrained inside fences and homes. Humans can also become infected by handling or disturbing infected scat. Hunters, field dressing infected game without protective gear, are also at risk as are trappers who handle the carcasses and furs of infected animals. Humans are considered an intermediate host.

The other parasite is Echinoccoccus multilocularis which causes Alveolar Hydatid Disease. This parasite is carried by rodents (especially mice) fed on by wolves. This form has turned up in wolves in Europe. The likelihood of wolves here carrying and transmitting the parasite is probable as the disease has occurred in both Canada and Alaska; it has also been diagnosed in patients from eastern Montana to Ohio. Alveolar hydatid disease forms many cysts that bud off more cysts. Cysts follow lymphatic or blood pathways infecting other parts of the body. It grows and buds like a cancer. It kills about 70% of infected people in 5 years. Surgery without spilling cyst content in the patient's body cavity, causing a secondary infection, is very difficult to accomplish. Some success has been had treating this form without surgery.

Thirty-nine (39) of 63 wolf carcasses (62%) in Idaho and 38 of 60 wolves (63%) in Montana, examined between 2006 and 2008, carried the E. granulosus variety of tapeworm parasite which causes Cystic Hydatid Disease.

Following my last article, one individual wrote to say that the likelihood of transmission to humans was negligible. Those who make this claim base it upon the fact that, to date, infection rates have been relatively low in more developed countries. While true, this does not tell the whole story. In those same countries, wolf populations were tightly controlled and the numbers kept low for several different reasons, including rabies, predation, diseases carried and spread, and decimation of ungulate herds. Some in the scientific field claim the sylvatic form of Echinoccocus granulosus is of little danger to humans; Dr Geist, Will Graves and George Dovel disagree. A Google search for "Cystic Hydatid Disease" returned 335,000 results world-wide.

It is pretty obvious, from documents put out by the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Service (IFWS), that the wolf population in Idaho has exploded; that, at the end of 2008, IFWS could only guess at the actual number of wolves, listing a minimum of 846 wolves in Idaho and 1645 wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountain Region which encompasses most of Idaho and parts of Wyoming and Montana. This same report listed a minimum of 39 breeding pairs in Idaho alone. With that explosion comes the increased risk of Cystic hydatid disease, especially when two-thirds of the wolf carcasses examined in Idaho and Montana between 2006 and 2008 were not merely infected but infested with the parasite. This report, by the IFWS, page 8, shows the extent of wolf activity in Idaho in 2008. That this parasite will spread in the wolf population is a given; that it will spread from wolves to ungulates is already happening.

In this 2006 Wildlife Health Laboratory Report, Page 3, the IFWS states,

"In addition, 1 mountain goat and several mule deer and elk were found to have hydatid cysts in the lungs (Echinococcus granulosa), likely with wolves as the definitive host of this previously unrecognized parasite in the state."

Well, there goes the claim by several that Ecninococcus granulosus has always been present in the state of Idaho! Possibly in the pastoral form, but obviously not in the sylvatic form.

In this 2007 Wildlife Health Laboratory Report, Page 3, the IFWS states,

"Wolf necropsies indicated the continued presence of lice (Trichodectes canis) and tape worm (Echinococcus), previously detected last year in Idaho. Wolves are most likely the definitive host of this previously unrecognized parasite in the state."

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In case you didn't catch that, the 2007 report states that the Echninococcus parasite was detected in Idaho in 2006. Yet nothing is said about that in the 2006 report.

And the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Service issued no warning to citizens or hunters! For part two click below.

Click here for part -----> 2,

� 2010 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved

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Activist and researcher, Stuter has spent the last fifteen years researching systems theory and systems philosophy with a particular emphasis on education as it pertains to achieving the sustainable global environment. She home schooled two daughters. She has worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance, the sustainable global environment and education reform. She networks nationwide with other researchers and a growing body of citizens concerned about the transformation of our nation from a Constitutional Republic to a participatory democracy. She has traveled the United States and lived overseas.

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Well, there goes the claim by several that Ecninococcus granulosus has always been present in the state of Idaho! Possibly in the pastoral form, but obviously not in the sylvatic form.