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The prevalence and distribution of Alaria alata, a potential zoonotic parasite, in foxes in Ireland


The digenean trematode Alaria alata, an intestinal parasite of wild canids is widely distributed in Europe. The recent finding of the mesocercarial life cycle stage in the paratenic wild boar host suggests that it may potentially infect humans Mohl et al. (Parasitol Res 105:1–15, 2009). Over 500 foxes were examined during a wildlife survey for zoonotic diseases in 2009 and 2010. The prevalence of A. alata ranged from 21% to 26% in 2009 and 2010, and the intensity of infection varied, with the majority of foxes having between one and ten trematodes, but a small number of animals had parasitic burdens greater than 500. The location of foxes was geo-referenced and mapped using a geographic information system. The results of the spatial analysis suggest that A. alata may have a limited distribution being confined mainly to areas of pasture especially in the central plain and north Munster. Hot spot analysis indicated a clustering and that the level of parasitism was greatest in foxes from those areas where the prevalence of infection was highest.

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The assistance of the Veterinary Research Officers in the Regional Veterinary Laboratories with the collection of the fox intestines was very much appreciated.

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Correspondence to T. M. Murphy.

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Murphy, T.M., O’Connell, J., Berzano, M. et al. The prevalence and distribution of Alaria alata, a potential zoonotic parasite, in foxes in Ireland. Parasitol Res 111, 283–290 (2012).

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  • Geographic Information System
  • Wild Boar
  • Intermediate Host
  • Paratenic Host
  • Corine Land Cover