The increasing abundance of the raccoon and the raccoon dog made them of interest to parasitologists as potential hosts for diseases. A team of researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna has now analysed samples from both species in Austria. The raccoon dog was shown to serve as an additional host for local parasites. Like the fox, it represents a risk as a host of zoonotic parasites, such as the fox tapeworm or trichina worms, that are also of relevance for humans. The raccoons sampled, as they mainly originated from fur farms, were still largely pathogen-free. The results were published in the journal Parasitology Research.
Raccoons and raccoon dogs are non-native species in Europe, being endemic to North America and the Far East, respectively. Both were introduced to northern Europe and have extended their range to the south. In some places, they are even the most common carnivore species.
Raccoons and raccoon dogs are non-native species in Europe, being endemic to North America and the Far East, respectively.
And they are additional carriers for disease. Both are potential hosts for a number of different parasites, such as the fox tapeworm, which can also infest humans.
Raccoon still relatively harmless as disease carrier
Raccoons and raccoon dogs are often confused, but they are actually quite easy to distinguish by the differences in their face masks. Despite their similar appearance, the two species are not as closely related as the raccoon dog is with the fox.
This also makes the raccoon dog a risk as an additional vector of disease, such as the fox tapeworm, a proven parasite of local foxes. But the raccoon can also transmit human-relevant parasites, such as the raccoon roundworm.
Researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna for the first time studied samples from Austrian animals in the laboratory looking for parasitic pathogens. “Important was above all the question whether the animals can contribute or are already contributing to an increased spread of local parasites,” explains Georg Duscher of the Institute of Parasitology. The study revealed that the raccoon currently represents a lower risk than the raccoon dog.
“We have so far not discovered any parasites in the raccoon samples,” the senior author explains. This finding coincides with studies conducted in other European countries that have also found few relevant pathogens.
Raccoon dog: Relationship to fox a greater risk
The raccoon dog, on the other hand, represents a greater risk than the raccoon. In addition to parasites than cannot be transmitted to humans, the researchers also found the fox tapeworm as well as the trematode Alaria alata, or Duncker’s muscle fluke, in individual samples. These were taken from raccoon dogs in different habitats across Austria. The infections with the fox tapeworm were restricted to western Austria, those with A. alata to the East.
In both areas, the parasites were also shown to infest local foxes.
Infections with the parasite B. cf. microti, in comparison, were found in samples regardless of their location. This parasite can also be transmitted by foxes. The researchers thus produced the first evidence of a parallel infection of the two animals in Europe. “The raccoon dog therefore clearly is an additional vector of fox-type parasites and should be controlled regularly,” says Duscher.
Species distribution model could make studies easier
The abundance of the two carnivores in Austria remains relatively low in comparison to Germany and northern Europe, says first author Tanja Duscher from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology. This also has to do with the geographic conditions. She has created a so-called species distribution model for the two animals. The model calculates the probability of presence of the species in Austria. “The species distribution model allows us to predict where the two carnivores are most likely to spread in Austria. Such a model could help to support epidemiological monitoring.”
The raccoon dog, being more closely related with foxes, represents a greater risk as a host, says Georg Duscher. This non-native animal should therefore be controlled regularly – although the raccoon should not be excluded either. The latter has so far been given a clean bill of health with few parasitic infestations. “Most raccoons in Europe originate from fur farms and are still largely parasite-free, probably because of the veterinary examinations,” explains Georg Duscher. The mixing of the founder populations, however, leads to parasitic transmission and could make raccoons more relevant in the future.
The article “Der Artikel „The raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) and the raccoon (Procyon lotor)-their role and impact of maintaining and transmitting zoonotic diseases in Austria“ by Tanja Duscher, Adnan Hodžić, Walter Glawischnig and Georg Duscher was published in Parasitology Research.
Website habitat model: http://www.enok.at
About the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria is one of the leading academic and research institutions in the field of Veterinary Sciences in Europe. About 1,300 employees and 2,300 students work on the campus in the north of Vienna which also houses five university clinics and various research sites. Outside of Vienna the university operates Teaching and Research Farms. http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at
Institute of Parasitology
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-2211
Science Communication / Corporate Communications
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-1165
Mag.rer.nat Georg Mair | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences