NEW YORK (WWTI) — A surveillance study is being conducted in New York to help identify the distribution of an emerging zoonotic parasite.

Graduate students at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry are asking for the public’s help collecting samples for the study. The two species of the tapeworm parasite are called Echinococcus multilocularis and Echinococcus granulosus.

Infection with the parasites is caused through ingestion of their eggs, which are shed in the feces of their definitive host. Canines, both wild and domestic, serve as the definitive host for Echinococcus spp.

According to the project’s website, Echinococcus multilocularis is being found for the first time in multiple eastern states, including New York. Surveillance for the parasite is imperative to understanding the transmission cycles that are established in the state, the areas of high parasite intensity, and where to effectively communicate public health information to communities located within high-risk areas.

For that reason, the graduate students at SUNY ESF are asking the public to help provide them with samples for the study. They are looking for the gastrointestinal tracts and fecal samples from coyotes harvested within DEC Regions 3 through 7. Samples should be shipped to SUNY ESF where they will be screened for the parasite.

In order to accurately identify an Echinococcus spp. infection students will need to look at both samples. Those sending samples will have to register on the project’s website, and can find specific information about sending samples there.