Delane C. Kritsky, Professor emeritus, Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho writes the following in an email message to those concerned about the detected presence of tapeworms in wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming:
I just saw your message on Echinococcus multilocularis on the Idaho Trappers’s Association website. I worked (conducted research) for seven years on E. multilocularis in North Dakota during the 1970’s and indeed as you state it is a very dangerous parasite to human beings. However, the species of Echinococcus occurring in wolves and ungulates in Idaho is Echinococcus granulosus, a close relative of E. multilocularis. E. granulosus is, in my opinion, more dangerous than the strain of E. multilocularis that occurs in the upper Midwest (North Dakota, Eastern Montana, South Dakota and points southeast). The strain of E. multilocularis in the northcentral states appears to be relatively non-infective to human beings. However, E. granulosus is more dangerous because it highly infective to man and also is a parasite of sheep and domestic dogs which much more easily brings the parasite into homes in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming where human beings can be exposed. Utah had a focus of E. granulosus during the 1970’s and 1980’s during which time people were dying or undergoing dangerous surgery for the parasite cyst. The Utah focus occurred primarily in rural areas where sheep were raised. My friend and colleague, Dr. Ferron Anderson at BYU, was conducting research on E. granulosus in Utah and developed an educational program that primarily included the burying of sheep carcasses and de-worming of dogs and which eventually eliminated the parasite in central Utah. The parasite in Idaho will not be dealt with as easily (and I doubt that it can ever be eliminated as long as wolves are present) because wolves and ungulates (deer and elk) will maintain a sylvatic (wild) cycle, which did not occur in Utah during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Thus, elimination of the parasite from sheep and dogs (as occurred in Utah) will not be successful as it was in Utah because the wild cycle will continuously provide eggs of the parasite for infection of man and his domestic animals in the future. The only way that the parasite will be eliminated from our area is elimination of the wolf. By the way, you should also know that I have examined coyotes (which can carry both species of Echinococcus) and foxes from southeastern Idaho since 1974 and never found either Echinococcus multilocularis nor E. granulosus; Ferron Anderson never found the latter species in Idaho either when he examined canines in Idaho during the 70’s and 80’s (that is, the E. granulosus was never in Idaho until the introduction of the wolf). Finally, I asked the Fish and Wildlife during one of their public meetings concerning introduction of the wolf (prior to wolf introduction) and was “brushed off” by their “promise” that the wolves introduced to Idaho would be “de-wormed” which everyone (and especially they) should have known that such actions are never 100% effective. WE SHOULD BE ASKING WHO (THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, THE FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, THE WOLF ADVOCATES) WILL BE PAYING THE HEALTH BILLS ANDFUNERAL EXPENSES FOR THOSE WHO WILL ULTIMATELY BECOME INFECTED AS A RESULT OF WOLF INTRODUCTION INTO IDAHO, MONTANA AND WYOMING?