What is the role of Swiss domestic cats in environmental contamination with Echinococcus multilocularis eggs?

Furtado Jost, Rebecca; Müller, Norbert; Marreros, Nelson; Moré, Gastón; Antoine, Loic; Basso, Walter; Frey, Caroline F. (2023). What is the role of Swiss domestic cats in environmental contamination with Echinococcus multilocularis eggs? Parasites & Vectors, 16(1), p. 353. BioMed Central 10.1186/s13071-023-05983-y

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Background The role of the domestic cat as definitive host for Echinococcus multilocularis and thus in environmental contamination with eggs has not yet been entirely resolved. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of E. multilocularis and other gastrointestinal parasites in Swiss domestic cats and to compare the diagnostic sensitivity of different methods for the detection of intestinal taeniid infection. Methods Faecal samples from 146 cats were included in the study. Faecal samples only were available from 55 cats; for the other 91 cats, necropsy was performed in addition to faecal sample testing. All (n = 146) faecal samples were analysed by a combined sedimentation/flotation technique (44% ZnCl2) and by the sodium acetate-acetic acid-formalin (SAF) sedimentation technique; when sufficient material was available (n = 121 samples) the Baermann-Wetzel technique was also used. Additionally, all samples were analysed by two coproantigen (copro)-quantitative PCRs (qPCR): (i) a multiplex qPCR able to detect and differentiate between E. multilocularis, Echinococcus granulosus sensu lato and Taenia spp./other cestodes (CEST-qPCR) and (ii) an E. multilocularis-specific qPCR (EM-qPCR). Finally, the intestines were examined macroscopically and microscopically for parasite stages at necropsy (n = 91) and using an intestinal scraping technique (IST) (n = 64). Results Of the 146 cats examined, 24 (17.1%) were infected by intestinal parasites, namely Hydatigera (syn. Taenia) taeniaeformis (8.9%), Toxocara cati (6.1%), Capillaria sp. (3.4%), hookworms (3.4%), Mesocestoides litteratus (1.4%), Giardia sp. (1.4%), Cystoisospora rivolta (1.4%), Cystoisospora felis (0.7%), Toxoplasma gondii (0.7%), Hammondia hammondi (0.7%) and Strongyloides sp. (0.7%). Necropsy and the IST revealed adult H. taeniaeformis in 12 animals, of which eight faecal samples were positive by the CEST-qPCR (sensitivity = 67%) and six samples by the sedimentation/flotation technique (sensitivity = 50%). No E. multilocularis infection was detected in the sampled cats. Using Bayesian latent class analysis, the mean posterior prevalence probability was 0.0% (95% confidence interval 0–0.83%) for E. multilocularis. Conclusions There was no evidence of E. multilocularis infection among the 146 cats examined, suggesting that the prevalence of this parasite is low (< 1%) in the Swiss domestic cat population. Nonetheless, some of the sampled cats were infected by parasites that have rodents as intermediate hosts, demonstrating successful predation by these cats, and some were infected with zoonotic parasites. Cats therefore should not be disregarded as potential hosts for E. multilocularis and other zoonotic parasites.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL
School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL > Multifunctional Forest Management > Forest Ecosystem and Management


Furtado Jost, Rebecca;
Müller, Norbert;
Marreros, Nelson0000-0001-6802-4912;
Moré, Gastón;
Antoine, Loic;
Basso, Walter and
Frey, Caroline F.


Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QR Microbiology
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine




BioMed Central


[UNSPECIFIED] Boehringer-Ingelheim Animal Health, France




Nelson Marreros

Date Deposited:

18 Oct 2023 09:45

Last Modified:

18 Oct 2023 09:45

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