Echinococcus multilocularis, an emerging zoonotic disease is extending its geographical distribution within the European Union (EU). At present, five member states including Ireland are considered free. Previous EU regulations on importing domestic pets allowed these countries to maintain national rules that required all dogs be treated with an anti-cestode compound before entry. The controls on the movement of pet animals within the EU were recently reviewed by the European Commission and it was decided that the five countries had to demonstrate freedom from E. multilocularis before they could continue with the mandatory tapeworm treatment.The intestines of 220, 307 and 216 foxes were examined, using the sedimentation and counting technique, for the presence of E. multilocularis in 2003, 2009 and 2010 respectively. There was no evidence of the parasite in the foxes. These data together with the negative results from 130 foxes examined by other workers during 1999 and 2000 (Wolfe et al., 2001) were used to estimate the probability of freedom using scenario trees. The result of the model suggested that the probability that Ireland was free from E. multilocularis in 2010 was high, 0.98 (95% confidence interval, 0.94-1.00), thus justifying the retention of the mandatory tapeworm treatment for dogs entering the country from other EU member states. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
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