Wild raccoons in Germany as a reservoir for zoonotic agents

  • Matthias StopeEmail author


The raccoon (Procyon lotor) was introduced to Germany from North America almost 200 years ago and has now spread throughout the entire country, including some urban habitats. Due to the increasing contact of wild animals with humans, the monitoring of raccoons is necessary for the identification of potentially human pathogenic organisms and in terms of public health. There are no published studies on zoonotic agents in wild raccoons for 5 of the 16 German federal states (Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, Saarland, Hamburg, Bremen). In the remaining 11 federal states, a total of 10 different pathogens were identified, belonging to the groups of viruses (canine distemper virus, hepatitis E virus), protozoa (Cryptosporidium, Neospora, Sarcocystis, Toxoplasma), parasitic worms (Alaria, Baylisascaris, Mesocestoides), and mites (Sarcoptes). Four other zoonotic pathogens have been tested (canine adenovirus 1, Enterocytozoon, Trichinella, Anaplasma) but no positive raccoons have been detected. The individual studies differ widely in geographical scope and number of animals tested, making it difficult to systematically monitor zoonotic pathogens in wild raccoons. In addition, a number of pathogens known from North America that use raccoons as intermediate or final hosts have not yet been examined in Germany. However, current data indicate that the pathogen spectrum of raccoons living wild in Germany differs significantly from that of North American raccoons. Since a potential danger by zoonotic pathogens has to be assumed, further and above all, systematic studies on wild raccoons should be accomplished.


Wild biology Raccoon Zoonosis Human pathogens 



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Molecular Biology Research LaboratoryErnst-Moritz-Arndt University of GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany

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