Seroprevalence of Echinococcus spp. and Toxocara spp. in invasive non-native American mink.
Invasive non-native species can become reservoirs of zoonotic pathogens and cause their spread during colonization, increasing the risk of zoonoses transmission to both wild hosts and humans. American mink (Neovison vison) are considered an important invasive mammal species responsible for carrying endoparasites. The aim of our study was to evaluate the role of feral American mink as a possible transmission vector of Echinococcus spp. and Toxocara spp. in wildlife. We analysed the frequency of American mink exposure to both parasites, the spatial distribution in Poland, and the variability over time on the basis of specific antibody presence using ELISA and Western blot. Alimentary tract analyses revealed that American mink do not serve as definitive hosts for these parasites. Altogether, 1100 American mink were examined. The average seropositivity for American mink was 14.2% for echinococcosis and 21.7% for toxocarosis; dualseropositivity was detected in only 6.0%. Seroprevalence of both parasites differed between study sites and significantly increased over time in Toxocara spp. Thus, our study revealed that free-living American mink are exposed to parasites and likely to be involved in the maintenance of both Echinococcus spp. and Toxocara spp. in the wild as paratenic hosts.