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Survey of Baylisascaris spp. in captive striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) in some European areas


Skunks are popular carnivore species kept both in zoological institutions and in households where they are hand raised as exotic pets. These small carnivores are considered the main definitive hosts of the roundworm Baylisascaris columnaris. The purpose of this survey was to investigate the occurrence of Baylisascaris spp. in striped skunks kept as pets or in private zoo collections in some European areas. Copromicroscopic data from two laboratories, one in Italy and one in Germany, were used. A total of 60 animals were selected. Samples came from Germany (n = 30), Italy (n = 23), United Kingdom (n = 5), Austria (n = 1), and the Netherlands (n = 1). Twenty-eight animals were certainly kept as pets in private households in Italy and the UK. Fifteen out of 60 animals (25%) were positive for Baylisascaris spp. Molecular identification of adult parasites was performed in ten of those animals, revealing B. columnaris in all cases. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first survey of Baylisascaris spp. in captive skunks in Europe.

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Correspondence to Laura Rinaldi.

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d’Ovidio, D., Pantchev, N., Noviello, E. et al. Survey of Baylisascaris spp. in captive striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) in some European areas. Parasitol Res 116, 483–486 (2017).

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  • Striped skunks
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Zoonosis
  • Baylisascaris columnaris
  • PCR