Parasite transmission is a dynamic process that can be affected by factors including host and parasite population dynamics. Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are the definitive host of Baylisascaris procyonis, an intestinal roundworm. Transmission of this parasite has been linked to raccoon behavior and human land-use patterns; however, we do not know the importance of host population structure. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the relationship between raccoon population attributes and prevalence of B. procyonis. We necropsied 307 trapped or road-killed raccoons collected during 2000–2006 from the Chicago area. In addition, we examined, via fecal samples (n = 433), the patterns of B. procyonis prevalence as they relate to population dynamics among 3 subpopulations within the larger study. Baylisascaris procyonis was seen in 39% of 307 necropsied raccoons. There were differences in prevalence as a function of host age and sex. Baylisascaris procyonis was observed in 18% of 433 fecal samples obtained from live-trapped raccoons, and there were differences according to age, but not by sex. We found that the host populations consistently differed in density across study areas, but were similar regarding sex and age structure. Differences in host density were associated with differences in prevalence, suggesting that possible differences between populations, as well as ecological differences in sites and raccoon behavior, may have influenced parasite prevalence.
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