Raccoons are plentiful in the urban environment, nevertheless, we must remember they are wild animals, and can possibly cause injury or disease. A considerable number of raccoons carry a roundworm, Baylisascaris procyonis, and shed it in their feces.
What Is Raccoon Roundworm?
Baylisascaris procyonis is a raccoon roundworm that can infect other animals and, sometimes, human beings.
A high portion of raccoons is contaminated with baylisascaris. These roundworms grow in the raccoons’ intestinal tracts and produce millions of eggs that are shed into the environment in the raccoons’ feces. After 2-4 weeks in the environment, eggs end up being infectious; under the ideal conditions, eggs can survive in the soil for several years.
Raccoon roundworm is the common large roundworm or ascarid discovered in the small intestinal tract of raccoons. Adult worms measure 6 to 8 inches in length and about 0.4 inches in width. They are tan-white in color, round and taper at both ends.
Raccoon roundworm is common in raccoons in the Northeast and Midwest. 40 to 60 percent of raccoons may carry this parasite.
Roundworm causes the potentially life-threatening condition “larval migrans” in a range of species. Human infections are uncommon but can be severe if the parasites invade the eye (ocular larva migrans), organs (visceral larva migrans) or the brain (neural larva migrans).
Symptoms of Raccoon Roundworm
Baylisascaris or roundworm infections may cause:
- Loss of coordination and muscle control
- Failure to focus attention
- Enlargement of the liver
- Loss of sight
Signs start around a week after direct exposure. The infection can be deadly. In 2003, 5 deaths due to baylisascaris infection were reported in the U.S.
Transmission of Raccoon Roundworm
Raccoons end up being infected when they consume a contaminated animal (such as rodents, rabbits, and birds) or ingest Baylisascaris eggs from the soil while foraging for food. Raccoons use common latrines for defecation and have a routine of constantly defecating in the same location, leading to big amounts of contaminated feces being present in an area. Raccoons, particularly young ones, end up being contaminated straight by unintentional ingesting tiny roundworm eggs shed in the feces. If the intermediate host is eaten by a raccoon, the raccoon becomes infected.
Humans and animals, including pets, can end up being contaminated when they inadvertently swallow contagious Baylisascaris eggs discovered in food, water, soil, or other items infected with raccoon feces. Young children or people with developmental disabilities who put hands and other items into their mouths or have a practice of eating soil might be at increased danger for infection. When inside the body, eggs hatch into larvae and cause disease when they travel through the liver, brain, spine, or other organs. Transmission to humans happens when roundworm eggs are inadvertently ingested. Roundworm eggs can remain infective for several years, and raccoon feces need to be avoided.
Avoiding Raccoon Roundworm
If you have actually seen raccoons on your property or in the neighborhood, examine your property for evidence of raccoon latrines and dens. Raccoon latrines may be located at the base of trees, on flat surfaces such as logs, rocks, woodpile, or structures such as decks, patio areas, roofing, and in attics or garages.
Make sure the kids do not have access to locations where raccoons are or have actually been living. Wash your hands and your children’s hands completely after playing outside. Stop young children from putting their hands or fingers in their mouths.
Remove raccoon latrines and dens from your property. This is especially important if kids are playing in the yard. If you need assistance with recognition of latrines and dens, call a regional pest control business.
Be safe when tidying up the feces of raccoons:
- Use gloves. A face mask will avoid unintended consumption of eggs from contaminated hands.
- Wash your hands with liquid soap and water after taking gloves off.
- Avoid getting feces on your clothes.
- Burn, bury, or double bag the feces and put in the trash.
- Use boiling water to treat fecally contaminated areas such as decks and patios. Other disinfectants are not effective versus Baylisascaris.
Do not make your property welcoming to raccoons:
- Do not leave pet food exterior.
- Do not keep or treat raccoons as animals. Raccoons are wild animals.
- Do not feed raccoons.
- Remove brush and other materials from your property where raccoons could make their dens.
- Make bird feeders spill-proof and make sure that raccoons can not get to them. Shop trash in cans with covers that lock tightly. Cover sandboxes so they do not end up being raccoon latrines. Remove drinking water sources for raccoons such as ponds and other standing water.
- Seal all access points to your house and other structures, including basements and attics.
Raccoon Nest In Attic