The raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a known reservoir of zoonotic diseases throughout North America.2,5 Since the raccoon is a potential host for many pathogens that can affect domestic and exotic species, its presence on the Minnesota Zoo grounds may present a disease risk to collection animals.1-4 Enteric parasites and Leptospira interrogans sensu lato are the major pathogens of concern in this study. They have been diagnosed in collection animals and have the potential to be transmitted from raccoons to other animals or people. Information on the type and prevalence of these pathogens in indigenous raccoons is important in managing raccoon-human and raccoon-animal interactions. Raccoons were live trapped on the Minnesota Zoo grounds during the summer of 2007 and urine, blood, and feces were collected for analysis. Blood was tested by microscopic agglutination testing for six serovars of L. interrogans and urine was tested by PCR for shedding of L. interrogans. Feces were evaluated by standard floatation and sedimentation methods, in addition to direct smears, to determine the prevalence and type of intestinal parasites.
Serum was analyzed from 20 raccoons and urine from 17. Only one raccoon had a positive serum Leptospira titer for the serovars Grippotyphosa and Icterohemorrhagiae. This raccoon was PCR negative, as were all the others tested. The roundworm, Baylisascaris procyonis, was not as prevalent as expected, with only 2 out of 19 (11%) positive. The trematode, Alaria sp., was more prevalent, with 11 of 19 (58%) positive. This study will continue in the summer of 2008.
The authors would like to thank the Minnesota Zoo and those people who aided with this research, including Jen Pollard, CVT; Jenny Prom, CVT; Dr. Roberto Cortinas; Dr. Bert Stromberg; Dr. Susanne Prouty; and many others.
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