The musk rat (Ondatra zibethicus) as intermediate host of cestodes in the Netherlands

F.H.M. Borgsteede, J.H. Tibben, J.W.B. van der Giessen

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    An investigation on the presence of larval cestodes in musk rats (Ondatra zibethicus) was carried out in two regions of the Netherlands (east Groningen and south Limburg) where in a earlier study foxes with Echinococcus multilocularis were found. A total of 1726 musk rats were dissected (1200 in Groningen, 526 in Limburg). Larval stages of Taenia taeniaeformis were most frequently found (total 44.8%: Groningen 42%, Limburg 51.3%), followed by T. martis (total 6.1%: Groningen 0.7%, Limburg 18.6%). Infections with T. crassiceps (total 0.3%: Groningen 0%, Limburg 1.0%), T. polyacantha (total 0.2%; Groningen 0.3%, Limburg 0%) and E. multilocularis (0.1%: Groningen 0.1%, Limburg 0%) were rare. Infections with T. taeniaeformis were more frequent in adults (71.8%) than in juveniles (34.2%). The same was found for T. martis: adults 15.3%, juveniles 2.5%. This difference was also reflected in the relation between weight of the animals and presence of infection. Heavier animals (>1000 g) were more often infected with T. taeniaeformis (74.1%) than animals less than 1000 g (34.8%). In musk rats weighing less than 500 g (n=155) only 5.2% were infected, but above 1200 g, 82.6%. The highest number of T. taeniaeformis was 28, of T. martis 13, of T. crassiceps >1000 and of T. polyacantha 24. The E. multilocularis was in a very young stage, a few white spots in the liver. Although E. multilocularis infections were exceptional, it is expected that with a rise in the number of infected foxes in the Netherlands the number of infected musk rats will increase.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)29-36
    JournalVeterinary Parasitology
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • foxes vulpes-vulpes
    • echinococcus-multilocularis
    • alveolar echinococcosis
    • lower saxony
    • first record
    • prevalence
    • tapeworm
    • epidemiology
    • germany
    • humans

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