Biological Hazards

Echinococcus multilocularis - public health risk


Report no:

Publishing: 30.09.2024

Key message:

VKM will assess the likelihood of introduction of the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis to mainland Norway, and what risk it may represent to public health.

VKM has itself taken the initiative for the project, which is an update of a risk assessment from 2012. At that time, the findings showed that Norway could expect the parasite to spread from southern Sweden within ten years.

The parasite

The parasite lives primarily in red foxes, wolves, raccoons and other canines. It is important to monitor for public health reasons, because humans can act as an intermediate host. People can ingest parasite eggs through contaminated food or water, or have them spread from contact with infected animals, such as dogs or foxes, or faeces from the animals.

The parasite can cause the disease echinococcosis, which can be fatal without treatment. Treatment with anthelmintics is long-term, in some cases lifelong. A liver transplant may also be necessary.


In the first phase of the project, VKM will assess whether the assumptions, models, and conclusions in the 2012 report are still valid, and whether a new assessment is necessary.

If an update is necessary, VKM will assess the likelihood of the parasite being introduced to mainland Norway with infected dogs and wild animals from Sweden, Svalbard and other countries. VKM will also assess the likelihood of the E. multilocularis becoming common in mainland Norway.

VKM will also assess how effective the current monitoring of E.multilocularis is in detecting the parasite in Norway.

Project group

The project group consists of:

- Lucy Robertson, member of the Panel for Biological Hazards (project group leader)

- Eystein Skjerve, member of the Panel for Biological Hazards

- Morten Tryland, member of the Panel for Biological Hazards

- Kyrre Kausrud, member of the Panel for Biological Diversity

- Barbara Bukhvalova, VKM's Secretariat

- Danica Grahek-Ogden, VKM's Secretariat (project manager)

VKM's Panel for Biological Hazards will approve the risk assessment. The assessment will be published in the middle of June 2024.


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