Baylisascaris procyonis is a common gastrointestinal parasite of raccoons (Procyon lotor) and is a zoonotic helminth with the potential to cause severe or fatal infection. Raccoons thrive in human-dominated landscapes, and the fecal-oral transmission pathway and lack of effective treatment make B. procyonis a serious threat to public health. The distribution of medicinal baits has emerged as a socially acceptable and cost-effective method for managing disease in free-ranging wildlife. We assessed the suitability of a mass-producible anthelmintic bait for B. procyonis mitigation by evaluating the willingness of free-ranging raccoons to consume anthelmintic baits and determining whether bait consumption successfully cleared B. procyonis infections from raccoons. Anthelmintic baits were modified from standard fishmeal polymer baits, the food attractant commonly used in oral rabies vaccine baits, with the introduction of 220 mg of pyrantel pamoate into the fishmeal mixture. We captured 16 naturally infected raccoons, presented one anthelmintic bait, and monitored B. procyonis infection over 90 d by screening feces for eggs. Treatment cleared B. procyonis infections for nine of 12 raccoons that consumed >10 g of the 15 g bait. We used remote cameras to monitor in situ patterns of bait consumption for anthelmintic baits relative to standard baits. Both anthelmintic and standard baits were rapidly consumed, with no differences in the rate of consumption between bait types. However, after bait contact, raccoons demonstrated a greater willingness to consume standard baits while ignoring anthelmintic baits more frequently (P = 0.06). Initial trials of anthelmintic baits show promise, although refinement in both dose and palatability is needed. At mass production scales, the addition of pyrantel pamoate to fishmeal polymer baits would be inexpensive, potentially making anthelmintic baits a viable management option when coupled with an oral rabies vaccine or used independently for B. procyonis mitigation.
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Vol. 51 • No. 3