Helminths of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in Lithuania.
Red foxes and raccoon dogs are hosts for a wide range of parasites including important zoonotic helminths. The raccoon dog has recently invaded into Europe from the east. The contribution of this exotic species to the epidemiology of parasitic diseases, particularly parasitic zoonoses is unknown. The helminth fauna and the abundance of helminth infections were determined in 310 carcasses of hunted red foxes and 99 of raccoon dogs from Lithuania. Both species were highly infected with Alaria alata (94.8% and 96.5% respectively) and Trichinella spp. (46.6% and 29.3%). High and significantly different prevalences in foxes and raccoon dogs were found for Eucoleus aerophilus (97.1% and 30.2% respectively), Crenosoma vulpis (53.8% and 15.1%), Capillaria plica (93.3% and 11.3%), C. putorii (29.4% and 51.5%), Toxocara canis (40.5% and 17.6%) and Uncinaria stenocephala (76.9% and 98.8%). The prevalences of the rodent-transmitted cestodes Echinococcus multilocularis, Taenia polyacantha, T. crassiceps and Mesocestoides spp. were significantly higher in foxes than in raccoon dogs. The abundances of E. multilocularis, Mesocestoides, Taenia, C. plica and E. aerophilus were higher in foxes than those in raccoon dogs. A. alata, U. stenocephala, C. putorii and Echinostomatidae had higher abundances in raccoon dogs. The difference in prevalence and abundance of helminths in both animals may reflect differences in host ecology and susceptibility. The data are consistent with red foxes playing a more important role than raccoon dogs in the transmission of E. multilocularis in Lithuania.