Congratulations to Stefano Liccioli for successfully defending his PhD thesis
On Dec 17, 2014, Dr. Stefano Liccioli successfully defended his PhD thesis on “The transmission ecology of Echinococcus multilocularis in a North American urban landscape”. He was co-supervised by Dr. Alessandro Massolo, Assistant Professor at the Department of Ecosystem and Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary.
Dr. Liccioli’s thesis research is a part of the ongoing ‘Calgary Urban Coyote Project’ at Dr. Massolo’s lab. For his thesis, Dr. Liccioli studied the ecology of coyotes and the epidemiology of Echinococcus multilocularis, an important parasitic tapeworm (cestode) which is trophically-transmitted and typically maintained in a sylvatic life-cycle involving wild canids (definitive hosts) and small mammals (intermediate hosts). This parasite is of zoonotic potential: accidental ingestion of food contaminated with canid feces containing E. multilocularis eggs would cause the disease, alveolar echinococcosis, in humans. According to a 2014 report of FAO and WHO, this cestode is currently the third most impacting food-borne parasite, globally.
Salient findings of Dr. Liccioli’s research includes 1) Identifying prevalence of E. multilocularis in 29.5% (n = 61) of road-killed urban coyotes (Canis latrans) in and around Calgary, collected during 2009-2010; 2) Recording the first evidence of an urban sylvatic cycle of E. multilocularis in North America and documenting southern red-backed vole (Myodes gapperi) as a new intermediate host for this parasite; 3) Identifying sensitive lab methodology for detecting E. multilocularis eggs in coyote feces; 4) Documenting parasite prevalence in coyote (based on fecal egg analysis) that varied temporally (10.5-43.5%) and spatially (5.3-61.5%) across five Calgary city parks; 5) Assessing the use of non-invasive genetic sampling (fecal genotyping) to document individual patterns of E. multilocularis infection in coyotes and estimate epidemiological parameters (i.e. re-infection rates) 6) Identifying winter as a crucial season for E. multilocularis transmission, given the highest encounter rate of coyote with the parasite (number of infected intermediate hosts ingested); and 7) Identifying voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus and Myodes gapperi) as the key intermediate host species for the maintenance of the urban sylvatic life-cycle, given the selective feeding behavior exhibited by coyotes.
Dr. Liccioli can be contacted at email@example.com for queries regarding his research.
Alberta CWHC wishes Dr. Liccioli all the best in all his future endeavors.
For more information, see the list of related publications.