The first ever finding of the fox tapeworm parasite in Sweden was confirmed in a fox in December 2010. The parasite has not yet been found on mainland Norway, but there have been findings of the parasite on Svalbard. Humans can be infected either through direct contact with dogs or through the ingestion of e.g. mushrooms or berries from areas where the parasite exists. Humans that are infected may become seriously or fatally ill. In order to prevent the spread of this parasite to mainland Norway it is mandatory to treat all dogs against fox dwarf tapeworm prior to importation.
- All dogs must be treated by a veterinarian for fox dwarf tapeworm within the last 24-120 hours prior to importation to Norway and the treatment has to be documented in the pet’s passport.
- After the aforementioned treatment, dogs that travel regularly between Norway and EU-countries, may be treated by a veterinarian regularly with a maximum time-lapse of 28 days, instead of before each border crossing. Before entering Norway the animals on this regime must have been treated twice within 28 days, and the treatment must then continue regularly. Tapeworm treatment has to be documented in the passport by a veterinarian.
Treatment every 28 days may be relevant for those who have cottages or holiday residences abroad or others that regularly cross the border with their dog. If you wish to terminate the regular treatment, it is important that the animal is given a final treatment in Norway after the border is crossed for the last time. This final treatment must be given within 28 days of the previous treatment.
When you import a dog to Norway you must document that the animal has received the mandatory treatment. You can’t do this yourself. The treatment must be documented in the pet’s passport by the veterinarian who performs the treatment.
Pets that are not carnivores are not susceptible to infection by the fox dwarf tapeworm.
About the treatment
The types of medicine that may be used contain praziquantel or epsiprantel. Other types of tapeworm medicine will not kill the fox dwarf tapeworm and are can therefore not be used for the mandatory treatment. It is recommended to use a medicine containing a single active ingredient and not a combination of several active ingredients.
When the animal is treated, the parasite is killed, but not the eggs. The animal’s faeces can therefore contain contagious eggs for up to 24 hours after the animal has been treated. To prevent further spreading of the parasites you should pick up your animal’s faeces in the day after treatment and throw it in your garbage.
Why should treatment be given at certain times?
Cats and dogs can become infected with the fox dwarf tapeworm when they eatrodents. The tapeworm will not develop into mature stages in the cat intestine and therefore the parasite will not infect others. This is why the requirement for treatment of cats has been removed. When you treat your dog, the medicine kills all developmental stages of the parasite. It is important to treat the animal as close to the 24-hour limit as possible before you cross the border into Norway. The closer the time between the treatment of the animal and your travel to Norway, the less likely it is that the animal will be re-infected.
When dogs are infected by the fox tapeworm, the parasite will mature within 28 days. The mature parasite will then produce eggs that both other animals and humans may be infected by. The parasite will not be able to mature to the stage where it begins to infect others if you treat your dog with a maximum period of 28 days between treatments.
What to do when crossing the border?
When arriving in Norway, the animal and the owner must contact the Customs at the border. Dogs entering from Sweden do not need rabies vaccine and the owner does not need to contact the Customs at the border.
What can we achieve?
“The Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s goal is to stop the spread of sickness and to reduce the risk of getting the fox dwarf tapeworm in Norway”, states Head of Section Karen Johanne Baalsrud. “It is of course difficult to avoid the spread of a parasite that exists in nature, but the parasite usually spreads slowly in nature because neither foxes nor rodents roam far.”
Contact your local Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) by calling (+ 47) 22 40 00 00.