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Researchers call for control of raccoon dogs
Raccoons and raccoon dogs are non-native species in Europe, being endemic to North America and the Far East, respectively.

Study reveals species is a vector for zoonotic disease

The raccoon dog represents a greater risk than the raccoon as a vector for zoonotic diseases, according to new research.

The study, published in the journal Parasitology Research, found that raccoon dogs carry a host of zoonotic parasites, including the fox tapeworm and the trematode Alama alata.

“The raccoon dog is therefore clearly an indicator of fox-type parasites and should be controlled regularly,” the researchers conclude.

Raccoons and raccoon dogs, which are endemic to North America and the Far East, are similar in appearance. However, they are not as closely related as the raccoon dog is to the fox.

Researchers say this makes the raccoon dog a risk as an additional vector of disease - such as the fox tapeworm. However, the raccoon can also transmit human-relevant parasites, like the racoon roundworm.

In the study, researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna analysed samples from Austrian animals in the laboratory looking for parasitic pathogens. They sought to discover whether the animals can contribute or are already contributing to an increased spread of local parasites.
 
The study revealed that the racoon currently represents a lower risk than the raccoon dog. “We have so far not discovered any parasites in the raccoon samples,” explained senior author Georg Dusher of the Institute of Parasitology.

First author Tanja Duscher from the Research institute of Wildlife Ecology explained that the abundance of racoons and raccoon dogs in Austria remains relatively low in comparison to Germany and northern Europe.

She added that a species distribution model for the two animals could help to support epidemiological monitoring.

While racoons have been given a clean bill of health, the authors say that the mixing of the populations leads to parasitic transmission and could make raccoons more relevant in the future.

Image (C) Andreas Duscher

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New app to improve street dog welfare

News Story 1
 A new free app will support vital work in clinics caring for stray dogs around the world, experts say. Created by the University of Edinburgh, the tool allows vets to track the wellbeing of dogs going through catch-neuter-return schemes, which are common in countries with large numbers of strays.

Vets say the welfare of individual dogs can be overlooked during the process of capture, transport or surgery. The app, piloted across Asia and Africa, helps staff to monitor welfare, spot signs of distress and develop strategies to improve care. It was launched at BSAVA Congress on Friday 6 April.  

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Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “This service will be instrumental in improving traceability and providing guarantees to consumers about the origin of their food. NFU President Minette Batters, among others, has helped lead the way on this, showing how it will drive a progressive and vibrant livestock industry once we leave the EU.”