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Fears…And Echinococcus Granulosus Are Now Spreading…

Photo Above Shows The Lungs Of A Hunter Harvested Elk That Is Infected With Hydatid Cysts – Formed From The Eggs Of The Echinococcus Granulosus Tapeworm That Were Ingested By The Elk.  The Eggs Of This Parasite Can Infect Humans As Well.  Wolves Are The Primary Carrier Of The Tapeworm In The Northern Rockies.


Recently, a resident of Sweeden sent an e-mail to two friends of LOBO WATCH – to Dr. Val Geist (University of Calgary) and author Will Graves (“Wolves in Russia – Anxiety Through the Ages”).  Following is that e-mail…

“Dear friends,

We just overheard a  conversation where one of the speakers claimed that the American authorities failed to successfully treat all the imported wolves from Echinococcus before implanting them in the northern states of the US. Furthermore, the speaker claimed that as many as 80% of the Idaho wolves are now infected – a serious health hazard for people and live stock.

Your input here would be very much appreciated. We are facing a situation where the government wants to import pups from Russia and apart from the risks of getting aggressive and giant supporting genes, Echinococcus is a serious issue. So if you have details on the above, don’t hesitate to send me a note.

If it’s a fact that the authorities failed to disinfect these wolves, we must inform the public of these possible and negative consequences.

All the best,


Since the issue concerned wolves in the U.S., Canadian wildlife ecologist Dr. Geist passed on answering…and Will Graves turned to one Montanan who has pretty much devoted his life to studying the Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm…and the dangers it presents all other living things in the Northern Rockies…including humans.  That person was Clay Dethlefsen, Chairman and Executive Director of the Western Predator Control Association.

“Dear Jan,

Will has asked me to reply so I will try to synopsize a very extensive and multifaceted topic.

The short answer is that the wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming have Echinococcus granulosus (E.g.) tape worms in over 68% of the wolves with the major portion of infected wolves being less than 2 years old.  In some areas as we have over 84% of the wolf population infected.  Also, the wolves introduced were not properly treated for this tape worm or any of its sister species.  About 36% of the Wolves have worm loads of less than 100,  17 % have loads between 100 and 1,000 and the 47% have worm loads over 1,000 with the average of these wolves having about 5,000 worms in their small intestines.

Hence, if your Government is going to inject wolves (wild canines) or hybrid wolf dogs from Russia or any other part of the world which harbors Echinococcus granulosus, multilocularis, vogeli, etc. (there are 7 species of Echinococcus), you in a Nutshell are faced with a very serious situation.  By the way the wolves we had injected are identical to the wolves in eastern Russia, it sounds like you are about to get a similar wolf.

In 1947 wolves were classified by taxonomy and it wasn’t until the 1980’s when DNA designations were created that this changed .  This transition took us from having over 27 different species of wolf to having only 5, and this realignment consolidated the Canus Lupus Occidentalis, Columbianus and Irremotus into one grouping now called the ”Gray Wolf.”  This is like grouping different pain treatment medicines into one group simply because they all treat pain.

These wolves as you mentioned are a great deal more aggressive, hunt as full teams and often kill excessive numbers of ungulates as sport or in frenzy killing sprees.  This a great deal different than what the wolves we had here (which were nearly eliminated in our areas by the 1930’s) did.

These wolves have become a great deal more reproductive than the US Fish and Wildlife Service and our State Fish and Game Departments said they would.  These statements they made when they knew they were not generally true.  Yet they have been able to convince the uneducated that they were/are factual. This is what we call “value Added Science” which is diametrically opposite of objective Scientific Method base research.

The Fact that these allegations by our program staffs’ were not completely true but were accepted as the whole truth was partly due to L. David Mech’s statements made after he published his doctorial Dissertation at Purdue University, after he completed his research in late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  Note: He was directly involved at the beginning of an 18 year (1958 to 1976) study, the “Wolves of Minong” headed by Durward Allen, at that time Professor at Purdue, on the wolves on Isle Royale, Lake Superior, Minnesota.

During the 1980’s and early 1990’s our US Fish and Wildlife Service developed and had approved a plan to inject wolves captured in Canada into our three State area (i.e. Montana, Wyoming and Idaho).  They contended that the wolves WOULD NOT DO many things that historical research and scientific investigations, including Allen’s and Mech’s, had already substantiated that they would do.  Yet because our Program Leaders had already decided that no matter what the objections they were going to force these wolves, in 1995 and 1996, upon us; hence, the plan was executed.  The program is still being executed under full Government protection and we now have a situation that is, and can easily be characterized, as completely out of control.

Bottom-line is that instead of having a population of not more that 450 wolves with 45 breeding packs, which was their second guarantee, we now have in our three plus state area over 245 packs and over, 4,000 Canadian Gray Wolves.  We, also, are now faced with a severe expansion of these numbers, into surrounding States, simply because of the migration habits of wolves (including habits as “loner wolves” and as “mating pairs”).

The devastation brought by these wolf numbers is extremely serious not only from the depredation of our Wild Ungulate populations (i.e. Moose, Elk, Deer, etc.) but from the ever increasing habituation and acclimatization of the new generations of wolves which have caused serious livestock depredation and a disease-vector explosion.

We are now in the 10 to 20 year post introduction bracket for these wolves.  This is the period when we find that our urban and residential areas are being routinely invaded by these extreme carnivores.  Numerous people have had very close physical encounters with these wolves with some close interactions showing that  we will shortly see human attacks and physical injuries, not just backyard pet killings and casual pursuits of humans.

The wolves we now have are very infected with Echinococcus granulosus (E.g.).  In 2008-2009 a laboratory evaluation of 123 wolf carcasses was done.  The results were that 63% of the wolves had the disease.  In addition we have determined that a large percentage of our wild ungulate population has come down with Hydatid Cysts, and as you may know you have to have both of these elements to establish and maintain an E. g. life cycle.  From the interface of these two host, definitive (canine) and intermediate (ungulate), we get the real problem—the fully established, wide spread and maintained Life Cycles.

Recently, two additional and separate evaluations were done and in several areas we are finding that 84 plus % of our wolves now have the tapeworm and the Cyst phase is becoming more prevalent in our wild ungulates.  Next we will discover the Cyst in Domestic Livestock and hybrid wolf-coyote and wolf-dog canines.

The original wolf injection consisted of 66 wolves which were placed in our Yellowstone National Park (32) and in a Wilderness area (34) in Central Idaho.  These original 66 are now most likely dead (in the wild wolves rarely live past 9 years and are definitely dead in 13 to 15 years).  So what we are currently dealing with is their offspring.

When the wolf “Recovery Plan” was about to be enacted, Will sent a letter to Edward Bangs, who was the program manager, of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, warning him of the problem of bring wolves into a new area before evaluating fully the potential for zoonotic diseases, which leads to health and safety emergencies.  Bangs sent a copy of Will’s letter to a Russian Wolf Scientist in Russia.  I have examined very constructively both Will’s letter and the response.

The reply letter was a very generic Country to Country response and it noted that the Russian’s could not find support documentation for all the facts that had been cited in the book “Wolves in Russia; Anxiety Through the Ages,” even though Russian points of contact had help extensively with the background research.

As an indirect result of this letter and a direct result of incessant other wolf-introduction-supporters from the United States and Canada, Ed Bangs stated that the wolves would be treated for diseases before they were released and that these wolves would not cause any increase in the spread of diseases carried by wolves including Rabies.  Of course this statement was subjectively founded not objectively based and done in a hurry.

In fact what the Environmental Impact Statement, released by the US Fish and Wildlife Service stated was: “a Finding of NO Significance” as regarded wolves disease spread.  This written conclusion was scientifically unfounded but became the concrete subjective conclusion and thus wolves were injected.

Concurrent with this injection we had a viable migratory population from Canada of Gray Wolves that had existed in the northern part of Montana for many years before the 66 were injected.  These wolves were never treated for anything and the probability of many of these migratory wolves having the Echinococcus granulosus disease was nearly certain.

The treatment that was given to the Wolves prior to their release into the wild was focused on immunizations and shots that would keep the wolves from getting disease that would kill them before they could establish a enduring population.

The treatment they actual received is unavailable to us at this time.  But even if they did give these wolves treatment for tape worms they were only given a universal de-wormer which had a very low efficacy for removing the E. granulosus (E.g.) tapeworm.  To kill this tapeworm, with a 90 % or higher probability of ridding wolves of the tapeworm, requires three treatments with praziquantel at a dose of 10 mg/kilogram of canine weight, over a 12 week interval with the feces from the treated wolves being evaluated for coproantigen by a PCR-DNA or ELISA test, and if antigens are found, this means the wolves still have the worms in their small intestines and the treatment cycle needs to be repeated.  This goes for domestic dogs as well.

Two points bear noting: First canines are again susceptible to tape worm load immediately after completing treatment and secondly, that during this treatment the canines are expelling viable eggs and/or progollids (a pouch like segment), which contain thousands of the microscopic eggs or egg segments.  So to avoid exposure all feces must be picked up and burned with the areas of droppings being likewise cleansed

These wolves, which were captured in British Columbia and adjacent Canadian provinces, were released after only ten (10) weeks and there is no information available to the public that allows us to see if they were tested post treatment, and/or if at any time a determination to see if they were completely free of E. g was done.

When we look at the latest government published data on wolf pack locations we see that our residential areas are surrounded by wolves and there is hard evidence that individual wolves are now and have been for about 5 years dropping their infected feces in and around our living areas.  Our very conservative calculations have determine that every infected wolf every day drops over 2,400 viable E. granulosus eggs in our environment of which at least 1,600 remain viable/infectious to humans for over 9 months.

We have been experiencing a rather intense pollution in our wilderness areas for only 3-5 years, and we have not reached the point at which the potential for human Cyst Disease has become assured or diagnosable. But we are fast getting there.

The eggs after ingestion, inhalation or injection into a person generally are not detectible as Hydatid Cysts for over 10 years, except if they grow in the brain or grow large enough to cause vital organ function problems—breathing for example.

Many patients have no symptoms for longer periods.  It has been noted that patients can live for over 50 years with undiagnosed Cysts.  There are various reasons for this primary of which is that the medical professionals are not looking for the disease and hence they treat for other ailment.  A secondary reason is that they are not encouraged by health rules or laws to look for the disease.

We have posted our latest presentation slides for wolf’s attacks of humans and E. granulosus disease evolution and impact on our web site.  If you have access to the web, our web site address is:  www.wpcamt.org .

We have also posted here three articles which give more information to our citizenry.  Please look these over and if you think they may help you overcome reintroduction let me know and I will be glad to give you the detailed script for a complete presentation, or I could come over, not actually.  But some day I would like too, I have friends in Sweden who resided with me during the completion of a project to upgrade the GSK research facility here.

Even if an area has had years of egg pollution in its overall environment, people still have to be exposed to the pollution. Next they have to come into contact with the eggs and they have to internalize (inhale, ingest or be injected) the eggs.  In this regard women and children are the most susceptible to infection from domestic dogs or wild canines that bring the eggs into a residential area.

Those people who venture out into the areas where wild canines have the tape worm are also susceptible to infection but not to the extent that those people in rural, urban, suburban and residential areas are.

When assessing the potential for human infection it is important to determine the distribution of feces, as well as it being critical to determine the density of fecal matter and/or eggs.  Once this is done it is critical to determine the concentration areas of viable eggs like water sources, livestock grazing areas, riparian areas, etc.  It is also very important in residential areas or places frequently visited by people to determine where egg-soil saturation parcels exist.

The reason for these last two assessment is that the exterior surface of these eggs is very sticky and they can easily cling to surfaces like shoe bottoms, pant legs or dog feet and thereafter be deposited in a house for ingestion by hand or other means by women, children, toddlers or crawling infants.  Same goes for backyards.

In researching the Hydatid Disease from a worldwide data collection, we determined that women and children are most susceptible to infection.  In review of hundreds of medical-case histories we found many many examples of children with Hydatid Cyst Disease.  Of these examples  123 cases detailed children with brain cysts and of these children 23 were from 2.5 years old to 16 years old. One child of 6 years of age had a brain cyst that was nearly 4 inches [10 cm] in diameter (you can see this operation on the video on our web site).

A good source of medical information on this disease and its sister diseases is Chapter 3, Hydatid Disease (Echinococcus), published by the Tropical Medicine Central Resource (TMCR) Organization at USUHS. This chapter gives a very thorough background into what any country or area that is about to bring in the wolf-vector is going to be faced with within ten years or so of introduction.

We say ten years as a discussion point but our research shows that from the point of having no E. granulosus tape worm to the establishment of a full life cycle where the reintroduce wolves have the worm [or from when the tape worm free wolves are introduced into an area with disease] takes between 10 to 15 years.  Thereafter it takes about 5 to 15 years for eggs to interact with humans such that exposure, contacting and contraction issues to become significant. These two time lines can over lap, however.

These sliding scales and associated figures were pragmatically determined after assessing 36 worlwide variables and parameters. Note: however, that even though the disease causes significant human infection, not all of these parameters are represented in all the areas we examined.  The listing of these 36 factors, including geographical, enviromental, weather and ecological, appears in our web site’s disease presentation.

Also, it only takes a few of these characteristics to drive the human infection train.  But the only one you must have is the Life Cycle and it must be extensively interfaced with the human population.

I hope that this information, although cropped and somewhat simplistic, helps you with your efforts to combat the problems with which you are faced.

Please let me hear from you!


Clay Dethlefsen, AS, BS, MBA, MMS, PI, PS, IT, MCC Licensed

Chairman and Executive Director

Western Predator Control Association

415 West Main Street

Hamilton, Montana 59840, USA”


Our state and federal officials have purposely downplayed the severity of wolves spreading the Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm and its eggs for far too long.  Most people in this country still have no clue of the health danger when they head out with the kids for a weekend of camping in the wild, or allowing the family dog (especially in a rural area in “wolf country” ) to come into the home and romp around with family members, or something seemingly as harmless as eating an apple while taking a hike on a mountain trail.  All offer ample opportunity for ingestion or inhalation of the extremely microscopic Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm eggs.

Those of us who live in the valleys of the inter-mountain West all too well can remember how ash from forest fires 20…30…40 or more miles away can literally cover everything not inside or under cover.  The microscopic E.g. eggs are just as easily spread by mountain breezes.  If you live anywhere in the Northern Rockies, where there are wolves, you may not even have to leave home to become infected.  As likely as not, those tapeworm eggs can be found in the grass of the same yard where your children and pets play.  With the number of wolves now realized to exist in this region of the country, they are literally spreading billions of E.g. eggs annually – and these eggs can resist all degrees of weather for months.

Don’t wait for those who have dumped this danger on us to start waving a red flag.  Educate yourself on the best ways to prevent contact and how to lessen the chances of ingesting or inhaling the eggs of these deadly parasites.  Best of all, forward the link to this page to your local newspaper and to your state representative or senator – and see if they choose to become a part of the problem, and say nothing, or part of the solution and work to lessen the threat of the Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm.  –  Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH      


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