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Prevalence of Echinococcus granulosus in Australian cattle
Echinococcus granulosus is a tapeworm which shows a different regional prevalence in Europe. It should be detected when correct meat inspection is performed. This very interesting Australian large survey shows that there are also important geographic differences in the prevalence of this parasite in Australia.

Livers, lungs and spleens from 10,382 cattle were palpated at abattoirs in Cairns, Townsville and Rockhampton to detect hydatid cysts.

Prevalence of infection in cattle in each shire was estimated from results of the abattoir study together with reports of infection in a further 22,185 cattle obtained from abattoir records.

Linear modelling was used to define the effect of geographical origin, age, breed and sex on prevalence of infection.

Differences in the weights of carcases between infected and non-infected cattle of the same age, sex, breed and property of origin were examined. The economic loss to the beef industry in the region surveyed was estimated.

Results: Cattle infected with hydatids originated almost entirely from regions to the east of the Great Dividing Range.

The mean prevalence inside this zone was 28% compared with 3% in other areas. Viable protoscoleces were found in 0.7% of cysts. Geographical origin and age of the cattle were the most significant factors influencing prevalence.

Infection with hydatids had no effect on carcase weight.

Economic loss was limited to that associated with condemnations of organs at meat inspection, estimated to be $0.5 million per annum in 1981 and $6 million in 2004. The distribution of hydatids in Queensland north of the Tropic of Capricorn corresponded most closely with the distribution of small wallabies such as Macropus dorsalis (black-striped wallaby), M parryi (whiptail wallaby) and M rufogriseus (red-necked wallaby).

It was concluded that cattle are not an important part of maintaining the life-cycle of E granulosus in Queensland north of the Tropic of Capricorn.

Within the endemic zone, which is almost all to the east of the Great Dividing Range, the local pattern of bovine echinococcosis is most likely to be determined by the presence or absence of small species of wallaby such as M dorsalis, M parryi and M rufogriseus.



Source: DJD BANKS, DB COPEMAN, LF SKERRATT, EC MOLINA (2006): Echinococcus granulosus in northern Queensland. 1. Prevalence in cattle. In:
Australian Veterinary Journal 84 (9), 303–307.


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