Methods for killing Echinococcus multilocularis eggs within stool or intestinal samples, without damaging the diagnostic value of the sample, would significantly reduce the risk of animal health providers acquiring alveolar hydatid disease. The first objective of this study was to determine whether E. multilocularis eggs located in fox intestines can survive storage at −70 C for at least 4 days. Results showed that none of 72,000 E. multilocularis eggs remained infectious to defined strains of mice under these conditions, yet, similar eggs recovered from nonfrozen carcasses stored at 4 C for the same time period were viable. The structural identities of adult worms and eggs were not significantly altered by the freezing and thawing processes. These results indicate that ultracold temperatures can be used to kill or inactivate E. multilocularis eggs, making them safe to handle when diagnosing this parasite in definitive hosts. The second objective of this study was to determine whether E. multilocularis eggs could survive freezing to −70 C if commonly used cryopreservation protocols were used. The use of the cryoprotectant solution, 5% dimethyl sulfoxide–35% saline–60% lamb serum, with a −1 C/min freezing rate was unable to prevent the eggs from being killed by freezing to −70 C. Rapid cooling by plunge freezing into liquid nitrogen was also lethal to E. multilocularis eggs. Only a few of the many potential cryopreservation protocols were tested in this study, so it is not yet possible to completely rule out the possibility of preserving these eggs at ultralow temperatures, but it does indicate that temperatures below −70 C are lethal to eggs even under favorable storage conditions.
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