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Parasitology of feeding raw sheep to fitch

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The widespread practice of feeding macerated raw carcasses and offal of cull sheep to fitch (Mustelaputoriusfuro) prompted some concern as to whether fitch could be a definitive host of Echinococcus granulosus, Taenia hydatigena or Taenia ovis. Because mustelids do not normally feed on sheep carcasses, the lack of records of sheep parasites in mustelids does not necessarily mean that the association could not occur. Mustelids in Europe and North America harbour taeniid tapeworms, whose intermediate hosts are small rodents. Experimental infection of polecats (M.eversmanni) with E.multilocularis cysts were not successful, although worms grew in control dogs. A record of T.hydatigena in M.nivalis (weasel) seems to have been a mistake. T.tenuicollis is the common tapeworm of weasels, and the author may have confused the terminology with T. hydatigena-Cysticercus tenuicollis of the dog-sheep cycle. In order to determine whether cestodes were being transmitted to fitch by feeding raw sheep, we examined carcasses after pelting, and also attempted to establish artificial infections. Fifty fitches from a Te Awamutu farm, that had been fed regularly since weaning on macerated sheep carcasses (a period of approximately 6 months) were killed with carbon monoxide and pelted. The carcasses were immediately cooled…
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Keywords: Cestodes; Hydatids; Livestock; Meat; Parasitology - internal; Wildlife

Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: 01 March 1985

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