Hydatid disease seems to be a forgotten potential.
Its presence in the dog is of no threat to his health; its presence in man is potentially extremely dangerous; its presence in carcases could ruin the Australian meat market.
Dogs acquire hydatid infestations by eating infected offal – this infection can so easily be avoided by only ever feeding thoroughly cooked offal meats. If the dog has access to scraps left by other animals or can actually catch feral mice and rats, for example, then it is important that regular treatment for Hydatid infestation be adopted along with your normal worming programme. The compound praziquantel is the preferred treatment, it is currently readily available under two brand names, one even from your local national supermarket chain. The dog acts as a host where the hydatid developes into maturity and lays eggs which are passed into the environment in droppings. There are a vast variety of intermediary hosts which can be infected by brushing against contaminated dog droppings; including: sheep, goats, cattle, pigs, wallabies, kangaroos, etc. Encysted meat, meat from carcasses infected with hydatid is not suitable for sale or export. Hydatids in man is potentially lethal.
The onus is on all dog owners to ensure the hydatid life cycle is halted. With simple care this disease can be stemmed. In the late 1950s Tasmania had an infection rate amongst dogs of over 12%; by 1983 the state’s infection rate had dropped to below 0.1%. There are pockets of infection now being identified in areas across Australia, such as in the foothills around Perth, WA and in the northern country areas of Victoria. =