Frequency distribution of Echinococcus multilocularis and other helminths of foxes in Kyrgyzstan.
ABSTRACT Echinococcosis is a major emerging zoonosis in central Asia. A study of the helminth fauna of foxes from Naryn Oblast in central Kyrgyzstan was undertaken to investigate the abundance of Echinococcus multilocularis in a district where a high prevalence of this parasite had previously been detected in dogs. A total of 151 foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were investigated in a necropsy study. Of these 96 (64%) were infected with E. multilocularis with a mean abundance of 8669 parasites per fox. This indicates that red foxes are a major definitive host of E. multilocularis in this country. This also demonstrates that the abundance and prevalence of E. multilocularis in the natural definitive host are likely to be high in geographical regions where there is a concomitant high prevalence in alternative definitive hosts such as dogs. In addition Mesocestoides spp., Dipylidium caninum, Taenia spp., Toxocara canis, Toxascaris leonina, Capillaria and Acanthocephala spp. were found in 99 (66%), 50 (33%), 48 (32%), 46 (30%), 9 (6%), 34 (23%) and 2 (1%) of foxes, respectively. The prevalence but not the abundance of E. multilocularis decreased with age. The abundance of D. caninum also decreased with age. The frequency distribution of E. multilocularis and Mesocestoides spp. followed a zero-inflated negative binomial distribution, whilst all other helminths had a negative binomial distribution. This demonstrates that the frequency distribution of positive counts and not just the frequency of zeros in the data set can determine if a zero-inflated or non-zero-inflated model is more appropriate. This is because the prevalences of E. multolocularis and Mesocestoides spp. were the highest (and hence had fewest zero counts) yet the parasite distribution nevertheless gave a better fit to the zero-inflated models.