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WE agree with Vic Simpson and Matt Hartley (VR, December 24/31, 2011, vol 169, pp 689–690) and Roisin Campbell-Palmer and others (VR, March 3, 2012, vol 170, p 235) that the unlicensed release of European beavers (Castor fiber), without consideration of OIE and IUCN guidelines on quarantine and health screening before translocation of wildlife (Woodford 2001), carries a risk of introduction and establishment of Echinococcus multilocularis in the UK. A case of a beaver diagnosed postmortem with E multilocularis in England has already been reported (Barlow and others 2011).
Simpson and Hartley also refer to the current unlicensed population of beavers in the Tay region of Scotland as a possible risk. There is anecdotal evidence that this population is considerably greater than the estimate of 20 so reported (BBC 2011), and may be closer to 100 animals. There is an anecdotal hunter's report of a prevalence of 2.5 to 5 per cent for E multilocularis infection in beavers in Bavaria, based on 400 culled beavers (Barlow and others 2011), but the actual prevalence of E multilocularis in the central European countries of origin of the unlicensed first-generation Tay beavers is unknown. It is also unclear how …