Original Paper

Parasitology Research

, Volume 101, Issue 3, pp 605-611

Influence of urbanization on the epidemiology of intestinal helminths of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Geneva, Switzerland

  • Leslie A. ReperantAffiliated withInstitute of Parasitology, University of ZurichDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
  • , Daniel HegglinAffiliated withInstitute of Parasitology, University of Zurich
  • , Claude FischerAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne
  • , Lucia KohlerAffiliated withInstitute of Parasitology, University of Zurich
  • , Jean-Marc WeberAffiliated withKORA (Co-ordinated Carnivore Research Projects)
  • , Peter DeplazesAffiliated withInstitute of Parasitology, University of Zurich Email author 

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Dixenous helminths that depend on rodent intermediate hosts are supposed to be negatively affected by urbanization due to lower supply of rodents in urbanized environments. Prevalence rates of dixenous, non-strictly monoxenous, and monoxenous helminths in 228 red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) along a gradient of increasing urbanization were assessed by morphological parasite identification in the city of Geneva, Switzerland. Multivariate analyses for the five most prevalent helminth species or genera revealed a significant decrease of prevalence rates for the dixenous helminths Echinococcus multilocularis and Taenia spp. from the rural (52.1 and 54.3%, respectively) to the urban area (30.0 and 20.0%, respectively), but not for the monoxenous nematode Uncinaria stenocephala (overall prevalence of 78.2%) and the non-strictly monoxenous nematode Toxocara canis (overall prevalence of 44.3%). The lower prevalence of Toxascaris leonina in the urban area (8.0%) compared to the rural area (59.6%) raises the question of whether rodent paratenic hosts play a major role for the population dynamics of this species.