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Echinococcus treatment

About echinococcosis

Echinococcus tapeworms are dangerous parasites that occur in the most European countries and can also infect humans. Dogs should be treated against these parasites before entering a country where echinococcus is not present. Cats, ferrets, and other animals do not require treatment.

Finland is a country free from echinococcus (E. multilocularis, E. granulosus). Therefore, all dogs brought into Finland or returning from travels should be treated against tapeworms 1-5 days before crossing the border into Finland. This helps to slow down the spread of this parasite in Finland.

In addition to Finland, Norway, Malta, and Ireland are also echinococcus-free countries in EU.

Dogs can act as the primary host for echinococcus, but the parasite does not cause symptoms in dogs themselves. However, when transmitted to humans (or other intermediate hosts), echinococcosis can be extremely dangerous. Echinococcus often forms fluid-filled cysts in the liver.

 

If echinococcus is brought to Finland through dogs from abroad, it can spread into the environment, wildlife, and also infect humans through contact transmission.Voles (and other rodents) can acquire echinococcus eggs by consuming contaminated food, and then for example dogs, foxes and raccoon dogs can become infected by eating these rodents. Wildlife can spread echinococcus eggs through feces, for example, onto forest berries, which may pose a future risk of not being able to consume Finnish forest berries completely safely without preparing them first.

 

More information about echinococcus can be found on the website of the Finnish Food Authority (Ruokavirasto).

Echinococcus treatment before arriving to Finland

All dogs traveling to Finland, returning to Finland, or in any way arriving from abroad must be treated against echinococcus 1-5 days before the planned border crossing. NOTE! Medication cannot be given just before the border crossing, but at least 24 hours prior!

Dogs coming to Finland DIRECTLY from Norway, Malta or Ireland do not need to be treated against echinococcus. However, if the travel goes through any other than aforementioned countries, normal echinococcus treatment regulations apply. 

 

The simplest way is to visit a veterinary clinic abroad to obtain echinococcus medication before returning to Finland. In this case, the dog receives a single dose of the medication. The medication can be purchased in Finland befote the trip without a prescription if desired.

 

If you want to avoid searching for a veterinarian during your under 28 days trip abroad or if you travel continuously outside of Finland, please read more about the 28-day interval rule.

28 vrk sääntö

28 interval rule

When should it be applied?

 

If traveling between Finland and foreign countries is continuous.

 

If the trip to a non-echinococcus-free country lasts less than 24 hours (e.g., a day trip to Estonia or Sweden), the time frame for medication, which is 1-5 days before returning to Finland, would not be met.

 

If you want to avoid visiting a veterinarian abroad and your trip lasts less than 28 days.

In practice, the following steps are taken:

1. In Finland, the dog is given the same medication (praziquantel or another anthelmintic) twice at a veterinary clinic. There should be a minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of 28 days between the two administrations.

2. After the second medication, the dog is free to travel and return to Finland within 28 days.

3. If the travel extends beyond 28 days, the medication can be repeated every 1-28 days, either in Finland or in another EU country.

4. When finally returning to Finland without the intention of traveling again soon, one more dose of medication should be given within 28 days of the previous administration.

The medication can be purchased without a prescription from a pharmacy in Finland (e.g., Drocit® vet, which contains praziquantel), but it should always be administered to the dog at a veterinary clinic. The veterinarian will make a note in the pet's passport regarding the timing and the specific medication used.

In which countries can it be applied?

 

When the first two treatments have been given, the 28-day rule can be maintained in EU countries, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland, allowing the return to Finland (where the final treatment is given within a maximum of 28 days from the last one).

 

The 28-day rule cannot be applied when traveling to Malta or Ireland, as dogs must always be treated 1-5 days before crossing the border to these countries, except when traveling directly from Finland.

 

The 28-day rule can also be used when traveling outside the EU, but the treatment cycle cannot be officially continued there.

Where does Echinococcus occur and how to protect your pet and yoursef from it?

The potentially dangerous echinococcus (E. multilocularis) is particularly prevalent in Eastern and Central Europe, while E. granulosus is found in Eastern and Southern Europe. More detailed distribution maps can be found in the guidelines of ESCCAP (European Scientific Counsel Companion Animal Parasites).

 

When traveling to countries where echinococcus is endemic, it is recommended to treat dogs with praziquantel or epsiprantel every four weeks, or 28 days. In practice, this applies to the whole of Europe except for Finland, Norway, Malta, and Ireland.

 

Echinococcus can be transmitted to dogs for example when they consume rodents, slaughter waste, or raw meat. By keeping dogs away from these sources, the risk of infection can be significantly reduced.

 

Humans can become infected by ingesting eggs present in dog (or fox) feces or by consuming food contaminated with feces. The risk of infection for humans, even in endemic areas, is relatively low, but it can be further reduced by washing hands and thoroughly washing or heating raw fruits, berries, and vegetables.

 

As Finland is free from echinococcus, there is no requirement for echinococcus medication when leaving to the other EU countries.

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