Recent research has identified a lethal cancer-like disease spreading from dogs to humans in the Canadian province of Alberta

The parasitic disease is said to be caused by tapeworms and the researchers believe it was brought here by dogs from Europe.

The research was led by Stan Houston, an expert in infectious disease from the University of Alberta. His findings were published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Houston believes there could be a number of people who are incubating the disease within the community and it will only come out in time as the disease progresses.

The disease occurs through the ingestion of microscopic eggs of tapeworm called Echinococcus multilocularis through contaminated food. Once exposed it will take years for symptoms to develop. Symptoms run parallel to what is seen in cancer patients and may also include weakness, abdominal pain and weight loss.

Research says that it takes five to 15 years for the symptoms to appear. The disease condition is called alveolar echinococcosis (AE). Without treatment it is fatal and the treatment involves surgical removal of parasitic growths.

It is stated that this disease is very new to the western hemisphere and has come from the introduction of more virulent strains from Europe to Canadian wildlife ecology.

While AE in humans is extremely rare, the threat cannot be ignored since Covid 19 also came from animal sources unannounced. Thankfully good hygiene practices, especially washing hands after being in contact with dogs can reduce the risk of infection.

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