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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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Newborn okapi named after Meghan Markle

News Story 1
 An endangered okapi recently born at London Zoo has been named Meghan - after Prince Harry’s fiancé Meghan Markle - in celebration of the upcoming royal wedding. Okapis are classed as endangered in the wild, having suffered ongoing declines since 1995. Zookeeper Gemma Metcalf said: “We’re very pleased with how mother and baby are doing. Oni is being very attentive, making sure she regularly licks her clean and keeping a watchful eye over Meghan as she sleeps.” Image © ZSL London Zoo  

News Shorts
Ten new cases of Alabama rot confirmed

Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists has confirmed 10 new cases of Alabama rot, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to 122.

In a Facebook post, the referral centre said the cases were from County Durham, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, Sussex, West Somerset, Devon, and Powys.

Pet owners are urged to remain vigilant and seek advice from their vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions/sores.