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Influence of Environmental Variables on Baylisascaris procyonis Infection in Raccoons  [2012]

Samson, Amanda Dubay, Shelli A. Huspeni, Todd C. Cyr, Amanda

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Baylisascaris procyonis is a zoonotic nematode commonly found in raccoons (Procyon lotor). Human-altered landscapes can support dense populations of raccoons, increasing the potential for interaction between humans and these animals. We used raccoon feces provided by licensed fur trappers to investigate environmental variables that influence prevalence of B. procyonis at 2 sites in Wisconsin. Trappers submitted raccoon feces to us, along with information on sex, age (juvenile and adult), and approximate trap location for each animal. We used zinc sulfate (1.18 specific gravity) flotation to detect B. procyonis eggs in approximately 1 g of fecal matter from each host. We used ArcView software to determine the distance of each trap location to an urban area as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2000. We compared the habitat components in buffered home ranges (0.805 km around trap locations) of infected animals with those from uninfected animals using Mann-Whitney U-tests (P < 0.05). Variables investigated were human population, road density, housing units per census block, and land cover, including area of agriculture, forest, developed, shrubland, water, and grassland. We positively identified eggs in 64.9% of the animals sampled. Raccoons infected with B. procyonis had significantly larger area of agricultural habitats and significantly smaller areas of forested habitats in buffered home ranges than uninfected individuals. We found that raccoons near
Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are commonly infected with B. procyonis, indicating that public education regarding protection from disease is warranted.

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Journal of parasitology

ISSN : 0022-3395

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