Eradicated endoparasites

Three previously endemic helminth species have been eradicated in Iceland.

Echinococcus granulosus is definitely the most serious parasite to have ever affected humans in Iceland. Since 1863, extensive research has been carried out on the echinococcosis problem in the country (for reviews see, e.g. Krabbe 1865; Magnusson 1913; Dungal 1946, 1957; Palsson et al. 1953, 1971; Jonsson

1962; Beard 1973; Olafsson 1979; Palsson 1984; Arinbjarnar 1989).

Symptoms that can be related to human echinococcosis are already described in the Icelandic literature written in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries (Magnusson 1913). In the nineteenth century, Iceland had the highest prevalence of human hydatid disease ever recorded anywhere in the world (Dungal 1946, 1957). In 1863 E. granulosus was found in 28% of 100 dogs, which were examined from various parts of Iceland (Krabbe 1865). A campaign against echinococcosis has been in effect since 1869. It has primarily been

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based on education and general information to the public on the nature of the disease and the life cycle of the parasite. Access of dogs and foxes to hydatids of sheep has been prevented by systematic removal of slaughterhouse offal and dogs that have been treated with anticestodals. Reports from necropsies performed during 1932-1982 strongly indicate that the spread of human hydatid disease was practically brought to an end by the end of the nineteenth century (Olafsson 1979; Palsson 1984). Several surveys and reports from meat inspectors indicate that echinococcosis in sheep and cattle was apparently brought under control 30-40 years later (Palsson et al. 1953, 1971; Palsson 1984). Studies on dogs and the arctic fox Alopex lagopus in the latter half of the twentieth century have not revealed the parasite (Palsson et al. 1953, 1971; Baer 1962; Skirnisson et al. 1993a). At present all evidence indicates that the parasite has been eradicated.

Dipylidium caninum usually occurs in dogs but occasionally human infections can also be found. In 1863 the parasite was found in 57% of 100 dogs examined (Krabbe 1865). The infection prevalence was reduced to 1% in 200 dogs examined during 1950-1960 (Palsson et al. 1971). Since then it has never been detected and is regarded to be extinct. Although never reported in Icelandic humans, the high prevalence of the tapeworm in Icelandic dogs in the last century indicates that human infections might occasionally have also occurred.

Ascaris lumbricoides, first reported in the eighteenth century by Mohr (1786), is supposed to have been endemic in Iceland at least until early in the twentieth century. Health reports from 1890 to 1910 report tens of human ascariosis cases, mainly in children. The infected persons were living in different parts of the country. The endemic status was also confirmed by Sambon (1925), Matthiasson (1928), and Kreis (1958). However, since 1973, as routine search for human endoparasites started at Keldur, no endemic cases have been confirmed.

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