Wild mustelids and canids are definitive hosts of Taenia and Versteria spp. while rodents act as natural intermediate hosts. Rarely, larval stages of these parasites can cause serious zoonoses. In Europe, four cases of Taenia martis cysticercosis have been diagnosed in immunocompetent women, and two cases in zoo primates since 2013. In North America, a zoonotic genotype related but distinct from Versteria mustelae has been identified in 2014, which had caused a fatal infection in an orangutan and liver- and disseminated cysticercoses in two severely immune deficient human patients in 2018, respectively. Additionally, we could attribute a historic human case from the USA to this Versteria sp. by reanalysing a published nucleotide sequence. In the last decades, sporadic zoonotic infections by cysticerci of the canid tapeworm Taenia crassiceps have been described (4 in North America, 8 in Europe). Besides, 3 ocular cases from North America and one neural infection from Europe, all in immunocompetent patients, 6 cutaneous infections were described in severely immunocompromised European patients. Correspondingly, besides oral infections with taeniid eggs, accidental subcutaneous oncosphere establishment after egg-contamination of open wounds was suggested, especially in cases with a history of cutaneous injuries at the infection site. Taenia multiceps is mainly transmitted in a domestic cycle. Only five human coenurosis cases are published since 2000. In contrast, T. serialis coenurosis (1 human case since 2000) is primarily transmitted by wild canids. The etiological diagnosis of exotic cysticercoses is challenging. Usually, clinical material does not allow for a morphological identification, and serological tests are not available. These limitations have partly been overcome by molecular tools. Without claiming any dramatic emergence of cysticercoses and coenuroses transmitted by wild carnivores, further sporadic cases of such ‘exotic’ infections have to be expected.
Wild canids and mustelids transmit rare but potentially fatal cysticercoses and coenuroses.
Martens and weasels can rarely transmit dangerous parasitic infections.
Tapeworm eggs may contaminate wounds and develop locally.
In North America, the mustelid tapeworm Versteria causes severe human infections.
Molecular analyses from minute clinical material allows for a specific diagnosis.