Exploring Risk for Echinococcosis Spillover in Northern Minnesota Tribal Communities

Lauren A. Bernstein, Christopher Shaffer, Emily Walz, Seth Moore, Amy Sparks, Suzanne Stone, Tanya Roerick, Peter A. Larsen, Tiffany M. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Echinococcus spp. are zoonotic cestode parasites with a worldwide distribution and a complex, two-host life cycle involving carnivore definitive hosts and small mammal or ungulate intermediate hosts. Surveillance for Echinococcus spp. in the Midwestern United States (USA) is rare. Using a mixed-methods approach, we examined Echinococcus infection risks in wildlife and domestic dogs in four Minnesota Tribal Nations. We hypothesized that the spillover of Echinococcus spp. into domestic dogs would vary with the presence or absence of suspected wildlife host species and certain behaviors associated with domestic dog ownership, like feeding wildlife host carcasses or frequency of veterinary care. Among 83 dogs tested, three (3.6%) were positive for Echinococcus spp. Despite low prevalence, pet owner survey and focus group findings indicated that dogs encounter peri-domestic wildlife most often when they roam freely or consume wildlife carcasses. This study demonstrates a need for further research into spillover potential of endemic zoonotic Echinococcus spp. in the Midwest USA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-181
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the dog owners and focus group study participants from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Red Lake Nation, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa for generously providing their time, knowledge, and dogs’ stool samples. The authors acknowledge Laramie Lindsey for assistance with the molecular genotyping of samples, Sarah Ruffing for assistance collecting wildlife samples, Jonathan Pauli for speciating scat samples, and Heather Fox for assistance with the figure. Our community liaisons who helped recruit participants, provide spaces for community discussions, provide guidance on cultural humility, and arrange logistics included Sarah Deschampe, Rory Haaland, Angela Nordman, Jenny Fitzer, Karen Good, Amy DeLong, Kim Williams, Monte Fronk, and Kelly Applegate. Finally, the authors acknowledge the students, volunteers, and veterinarians with the Student Initiative for Reservation Veterinary Services (SIRVS), Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue, Leech Lake Legacy, and Minnesota Spay and Neuter Assistance Program (MN SNAP) for providing the opportunity to collect and analyze fecal samples and interview pet owners during the clinics.

Funding Information:
Funding support for this study was provided by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences, Academic Health Center Seed Grant, Grant-in-Aid, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, EcoHealth Alliance.


  • Indigenous community health
  • Preventive veterinary care
  • Qualitative research
  • Spillover
  • Wildlife disease
  • Zoonotic tapeworm

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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