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Raccoons contraband – The metazoan parasite fauna of free-ranging raccoons in central Europe

Peter, Norbert; Dörge, Dorian D.; Cunze, Sarah; Schantz, Anna V.; Skaljic, Ajdin; Rueckert, Sonja; Klimpel, Sven

Authors

Norbert Peter

Dorian D. Dörge

Sarah Cunze

Anna V. Schantz

Ajdin Skaljic

Sven Klimpel



Abstract

The invasive raccoon (Procyon lotor) is an abundant carnivore and considered as an important potential vector of infectious diseases and parasites in Europe. Raccoons show a broad, opportunistic, omnivorous food spectrum. Food supply and habitat quality in urban areas are very attractive for the generalist raccoon. This inevitably leads to increased interaction with humans, domestic animals and livestock, making the raccoon a potentially suitable zoonosis vector. In its autochthonous range, especially in the Eastern and Midwestern United States, the raccoon has been studied very intensively since the beginning of the 20th century. Whereas, basic field biology and parasitology studies in Germany and Europe are lacking and have only been conducted sporadically, regionally and on small sample sizes. In the presented study 234 raccoons from central Germany were comprehensively examined for their metazoan parasite fauna. The present study shows for the first time an extremely diverse parasite fauna in raccoons outside their native range and proves their essential role as intermediate hosts and hosts for ecto- and endoparasites. A total of 23 different parasite species were identified, five of which are human pathogens, 14 of which are new for the parasite fauna of raccoons in Europe. The human pathogenic raccoon roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis is the most common parasite species in this study, with a prevalence of up to 95%. The digenetic trematode Plagiorchis muris, another human pathogenic parasite species, was detected for the first time in raccoons. The ongoing spread of invasive carnivores and the associated spread and transmission of their parasites and other pathogens increases the potential health risk of wild and farmed animals as well as humans. An increase in parasitic diseases in humans (e.g. raccoon roundworm) is to be expected, especially in urban areas, where raccoons are becoming more and more abundant.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 10, 2023
Online Publication Date Jan 13, 2023
Publication Date 2023-04
Deposit Date Jan 23, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 23, 2023
Journal International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Pages 79-88
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijppaw.2023.01.003
Keywords Raccoon (Procyon lotor), Invasive species, Metazoan parasite fauna, Baylisascaris procyonis, Plagiorchis muris, Zoonotic diseases

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