The raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) and the raccoon (Procyon lotor) - their role and impact of maintaining and transmitting zoonotic diseases in Austria, Central Europe.
The neozoan species raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) and raccoon (Procyon lotor) are widespread in Europe and potential vectors of many diseases that can threaten human and domestic animal health. Facing a further spread of these species, it is important to know about (i) pathogens imported and/or (ii) pathogens acquired in the new habitat. Thus, we investigated the parasite fauna of wild raccoon dogs and raccoons from Austria, at the edge of their new distribution range. The eight examined raccoons were nearly free of pathogens including Baylisascaris procyonis, and thus assumed to have a low epidemiological impact, so far. Out of ten raccoon dog specimens, we found one from western Austria to be infected with Echinococcus multilocularis and another three from the eastern wetland regions to harbour adults of Alaria alata. Furthermore, we detected Babesia cf. microti in five of eight raccoon dogs all over Austria but none of our samples were tested positive for Trichinella spp. Nevertheless, the raccoon dog seems to be a relevant host, at least for the zoonotic pathogens E. multilocularis and A. alata, and we suggest to further monitor the raccoon dogs parasite fauna.