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Emerging disease
Possible origin of Mesocestoides litteratus
  1. Maggie Fisher, parasitologist
  1. Shernacre Cottage, Lower Howsell Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 1UX
  1. email: maggie{at}

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In response to John McGarry and colleagues’ letter (VR, 2/9 May 2020, vol 186, pp 498-499) reporting the finding of the tapeworm Mesocestoides litteratus in a gundog in Gloucestershire, the authors indicate that, as far as they are aware, the only historic record of these parasites in the UK is from 40 years ago, in wildcats in Scotland.

However, it should be noted that the same genus of parasite was documented in foxes in Powys, mid-Wales, as reported by Jones and Walters in 1992.1

While this tapeworm is not new to the UK, it is still rare in domestic dogs, and if it is of fox origin, it provides another example of the poorly understood interplay between fox and dog parasite populations.

Regardless of the source, it is still important to emphasise the need for risk-based praziquantel dosing of dogs, particularly those with increased risk of infection, as reinforced in McGarry et al’s report.


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