Geographic information system-aided analysis of factors associated with the spatial distribution of Echinococcus multilocularis infections of foxes.

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  • 1 Institut für Epidemiologie, Bundesforschungsanstalt für Viruskrankheiten der Tiere, Wusterhausen, Germany.

To investigate the influence of environmental factors on the spatial epidemiology of infections with Echinococcus multilocularis, foxes were sampled in a focal endemic region in the Northwest of Brandenburg, Germany, and examined for infection by the parasite. The locations where foxes were obtained were recorded in a geographic information system database. Positions of infected and uninfected foxes were analyzed on the background of geographic vector data of water, settlements, streets, forests, crop, and pasture. Fox positions were allocated to different land-use classes by use of a Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) satellite image. Infected foxes were more frequently shot near water, in areas of high soil humidity, and on pastures, suggesting that dryness may limit the tenacity of E. multilocularis oncospheres. Thus open landscapes with humid soil seem to be favorable for the life cycle of the parasite. In contrast, infected foxes were significantly underrepresented in forest areas.