Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Lessons learned in a wildlife disease study using a citizen science approach. (#117)

Joe Jacquot 1 , Paul Keenlance 1 , Douglas Graham 1
  1. Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan, United States

Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are common mesopredators across most of North America. They serve as definitive hosts for raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis), which is transmitted via fecal-oral contact and the consumption of infected intermediate hosts. When ingested by an intermediate host, larvae migrate through host tissues causing damage, particularly to the nervous system, rendering them more likely to be consumed by raccoons. A wide range of species can serve as intermediate hosts, typically these are seed-eating birds and mammals, but other species are susceptible to roundworm infection, including humans. Our goal was to conduct a survey of raccoons in west Michigan to estimate the local prevalence (i.e., percent infected) and intensity (i.e., number of roundworms per infected raccoon) of roundworm infection. In collaboration with computer science faculty and students, we created a free mobile app that enabled volunteer participants to crowd source the location of road-killed raccoons for our study. Approximately 800 biology faculty, staff, were asked to contribute in this way, reporting the location of road killed raccoons during their regular travels. We found the prevalence of raccoon roundworm was 69% (203/295 sampled individuals) in our local population. Mean intensity of infection was 31.3 ± 3.6 roundworms/infected raccoon).  Juvenile and sub-adults were more likely to be infected with roundworms than were adult raccoons. I will highlight the costs and benefits of this crowd sourcing approach during my presentation.