Echinococcus Tapeworm Infection

Posted on Monday, January 9, 2017
In: Latest News
Written by: Marisol Collns

Hunts are currently being invited to take part in a survey about the husbandry and health care of hunting hounds. This forms part of a larger 3-year research project into tapeworm infections in dogs and livestock in the UK.

What is the purpose of this study?

This is part of a research study on Echinococcus, a tapeworm parasite of dogs, which can also infect livestock, horses and people. This parasite is present in the UK, but information about where in the country it is found is currently lacking.

The tapeworm does not pose a health risk to dogs, but infection spread by them to livestock, such as sheep and cattle can lead to significant production losses for livestock farmers. In the rare event that a person is infected, this can result in debilitating disease that is difficult to treat.

Through the study, the researchers hope to find out more about Echinococcus in dog populations and livestock. They are including hunting hounds because this is a large well- defined population with a recorded health and welfare routine. The study will also include sampling Echinococcus in farm dogs, sheep, cattle and horses in the UK. With this information, we aim to improve and inform on the welfare, safety and health of people, domestic animals and livestock in our country.

Who is conducting the study and who is it funded by?

The study is led by researchers at the Institute of Infection and Global Health at The University of Liverpool and The University of Salford. The study is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Bayer plc. The study is conducted with full ethical approval from The University of Liverpool and with the knowledge of the respective hound associations representing the hunts taking part.

Why have I been chosen to take part?

All hunting packs currently registered in Bailys Hunting Directory are invited to take part in the study. You have been chosen to take part as you are principally in charge of the care and welfare of the hounds in your Hunt.

What does taking part involve?

You are being invited to help in two ways; firstly, to complete a questionnaire, which should take no more than 10 minutes. Secondly, you are asked to submit a sample of faeces from the hounds, via a sampling kit we provide free – of-charge, or by prior arrangement for collection by the lead veterinary investigator in the study.

Do I have to take part?

Taking part is completely voluntary and you are free to withdraw from the study at any time.

Will taking part in the study be confidential?

Yes. Any information you give will be held in strict confidence in a secure, password-protected database at the University of Liverpool in compliance with the Data Protection Act (1998) . All information will be fully anonymised and will be destroyed within 5 years of study completion. Questionnaires will be identified by a unique code, which will be used to link samples to the right questionnaire and ensure that further invitations are not sent to existing participants. Your personal details, those of the hunt and hounds will not be identified through published research.

By completing this questionnaire and providing samples, you are giving informed consent for your data to be included in the study.

What will happen to the information and samples I provide?

The questionnaire data will be safely stored and later analysed to investigate the national distribution of Echinococcus, and possible risk factors for infection in a rural setting. Faecal samples from the hounds will be tested in the laboratory to see if they contain the Echinococcus parasite. At the end of the study we cannot provide individual participant results, but a copy of the study report will be given to each participating Hunt.

What are the benefits and risks of taking part in the study?

Collection of samples is not expected to cause any undue health risks above those encountered during your normal daily care of the hounds. We do recommend that you use the disposable gloves provided during sample collection and follow the instructions as show. Taking part will help us gather vital information that may help protect your hounds and horses, the livestock and people that share our Countryside from a potentially harmful parasite.

No participants will be identifiable from any published or presented results.