Epidemiology and Infection

Spatial distribution patterns of Echinococcus multilocularis (Leuckart 1863) (Cestoda: Cyclophyllidea: Taeniidae) among red foxes in an endemic focus in Brandenburg, Germany

K. TACKMANN a1c1, U. LÖSCHNER a1, H. MIX a1, C. STAUBACH a2, H.-H. THULKE a2 and F. J. CONRATHS a1
a1 Institute for Epidemiological Diagnostics, Federal Research Centre for Virus Diseases of Animals, D-16868 Wusterhausen, Germany
a2 Institute for Epidemiology, Federal Research Centre for Virus Diseases of Animals, D-16868 Wusterhausen, Germany


Over a period of 40 months, 4374 foxes were randomly sampled from an area located in northwestern Brandenburg, Germany, and examined parasitologically for infections with Echinococcus multilocularis. Spatial analysis of the origin of infected animals identified two (one central and one southeastern) high-endemic foci with an estimated prevalence of 23·8%. By contrast, a prevalence of 4·9% was found in the remaining (low-endemic) area. The prevalences among juvenile and adult foxes were compared in the high-endemic and the low-endemic areas. To analyse the central high-endemic focus further, the random sample was stratified by zones representing concentric circles with a radius of 13 km (zone 1) or xn−1+7 km for the remaining three zones from the apparent centre of this focus (anchor point). Prevalences calculated for each zone showed a decrease from zone 1 (18·8%) to zone 4 (2·4%) with significant differences for all zones but zones 3 and 4. The relative risk of an infection decreased rapidly in a distance range of 26 km around the high-endemic focus, whereas the relative risk remained unchanged within a distance of 5 km around the anchor point. The importance of heterogeneous spatial distribution patterns for the diagnosis and epidemiology of the infection is discussed.

(Accepted August 18 1997)

c1 Author for correspondence.