me viewers, get to this page because they are caring for an orphaned wild raccoon.

But the advice is just as good of you have a nuisance raccoon problem, keep one as a family pet, or if you just want to understand the risk that Baylisascaris-exposure might cause to you and your children and the things you can do to minimize that risk. Intestinal roundworms are nematode parasites. Most every species of animal (host) – including humans - have their own special types of nematodes that have adapted to thrive in their intestinal environment and that have developed successful ways of transferring from one host to another. Raccoons are no different. Their intestinal roundworm is Baylisascaris procyonis. Over the eons that they have existed together, the raccoons and this parasite have worked out their relationship well enough that the raccoons normally suffer no health issues when the parasite is present in their intestines in reasonable numbers. The threat to people occurs because of the special way this parasite has adapted to move from one raccoon to another and the cleverness of raccoons in adapting to our urban landscape (high ecological plasticity) Raccoons are exceptionally clever, adaptable omnivores, equipped with thumbs which allow them to, among other things, open garbage containers and food receptacles. Although raccoons are native to North America, you might not know that they are now common in central Europe andJapan and parts of the former USSR. Unfortunately, they have brought the baylisascaris parasites along with them. You can read about that here. Who Is Most At Risk ?What Are The Actual Chances Of Me Or My Family Becoming Infected With This Parasite ? Anyone who inhabits an area where raccoons live is potentially at risk. Young children and mentally people are at higher risk of infection because they are more likely to put contaminated fingers, soil, water or objects into their mouth. That is the only way we know of to become infected. You can read accounts of two typical human cases here. This same feces-to-oral contamination rout is how dog roundworms (Toxocara) pass to humans. Anywhere between 1-10% of children show evidence in their blood of having ingested dog toxocara eggs. The more likely children are to play in dirt, the more likely the exposure. (ref) Scientists know much less about the frequency of humans exposure to Baylisascaris. In a 2003 study of children in the Chicago area, 30 of 389 (8%) showed evidence of exposure to Baylisascaris in their blood. (ref) There were problems with the blood tests used in this study. The authors have told me that exposure of these children to dog roundworm eggs may have been inadvertently attributed to exposure to raccoon roundworm eggs. The CDC has

there is a real possibility the more dogs will become infected. Much like feral cat colonies they destroy the smaller wildlife and bird population and bring the threat of raccoon-borne rabies as well as raccoon-borne Lyme disease and raccoontransmitted leptospirosis into your neighborhood environment. Feral (stray) cat colonies and urban raccoon problems go hand-in-hand. That is because the urban raccoon population is quickly increasing. Abnormally high raccoon populations disrupt Nature’s harmony and balance. Public health departments harp on the dangers of baylisascaris in an attempt to deal with rising populations of marauding urban raccoons and they are correct in doing so. Baylisascaris exists as either a male or a female worm. Is The Risk Of Infection Getting Greater ? Yes.” (ref) Fewer than 20 serious human brain infections (encephalitis) from raccoon roundworm have been documented in the last 30 years. You can read about that threat here andhere. if you or your family handle or expose yourself to raccoon waste in unsanitary ways – all bets are off. there have been an average of 55 lightning fatalities in the US each year and 75 cases ofamoebic encephalitis due to swimming in dirty water. Of course. So unless the raccoon has an usually large number of these parasites. they cause it little or no harm. potentially greater. But the dangers of these large populations of clever. It lives its whole adult life in the small intestine of raccoons. When female worms mature (in about a month or two).not by damaging the raccoons’ intestine itself. they begin to lay an enormous number of eggs that leave the raccoon mixed with its stool.stated that “predictive value of available serological tests [available at that time] are unknown. risk. What Is The Natural Life Cycle Of This Parasite ? Baylisascaris is a species of roundworm or ascarid. Baylisascaris can also live in the intestines of dogs. All ascarid parasites do little damage in their adult form. Dogs relieve themselves wherever convenient – not in specific latrines. As dogs and urban raccoons mingle. Raccoons under a year of age are . (photo) There is a second. In doing so. unsupervised animals is really much broader that that one threat. They absorb the nutrients they need from the partially digested food in the raccoons intestine . Over the same period. dogs contaminate the environment much more widely and make human exposure to their parasite eggs considerably more likely. It is not only the cats that come at night to feed at the feeders that well-meaning people supply for those cats.

They are eventually walled off in small islands (cysts) of inflamed tissue (eosinophilic granulomas). (Dr. Two things can happen to these infective eggs. Baylisascaris seem to be more common in late summer and fall when that year’s raccoon offspring are maturing and prevalent. or a family member inadvertently swallow an infective Baylisascaris egg. Kazcos is the premier expert on Baylisascaris) Occasionally.usually the largest shedders of these eggs. it will continue with its development just like it would have in the rodent or . Baylisascaris eggs do not survive well in the dry. hot conditions found in some areas. and dog and cat chows than their normal infected prey animals so perhaps. the parasite will enter the eye of these non-raccoon species causing severe damage. A second. probably more common thing can also occur. When raccoon stool is fresh. the eggs do hatch. the Baylisascaris eggs have developed sufficiently to hatch if eaten. But after the stool has sat for 11-14 days. Baylisascaris granulomas occur in nerve tissue or the brain. they have slightly less exposure to Baylisascaris through the prey they would normally eat. In those non-raccoon species. If they are accidentally consumed by another raccoon – particularly an immature raccoon – they can develop into new mature parasites in that animal's intestine. But instead of staying in the new host’s intestines. You can read two articles that discuss some of these points here and here. Urban raccoons are more likely to consume garbage. The infective eggs can be consumed by another species of animal – usually a small rodent or perhaps a bird. (ref) Baby raccoons as young as three months old can already be passing Baylisascaris eggs in their stool. (ref) Is Baylisascaris More Common In Raccoons In Some Localities Than Others ? Probably so. in the proper conditions. Because immature and young-of-the-year raccoons tend to have more parasites. Perhaps more frequently than with other ascarids that share this type of life cycle. the larval parasites migrate throughout the host’s body. We do not know how those two factors might interplay to influence parasite numbers. the encysted parasites in these small prey animals find their way back to the raccoon’s intestines where the cycle begins anew. these eggs can remain infective for years. When they are eaten. In this infective state. What Happens When These Parasites Get Into A Human Being ? Should you. Studies of raccoons in various parts of the US have found different rates of infection. Yet diseases of all kinds tend to spread more quickly in crowded condition. These debilitated rodents and birds are easy prey for raccoons. You can read about the parasite’s life cycle in considerably more detail here. the eggs are not infective.

In those cases. a recent blood test (RA ELISA) may be effective in doing so. and most important risk fact is the number of raccoons living in your immediate area. responsible for fighting foreign invaders like Baylisascaris. or spinal cord (ref) it will cause severe damage. The problems is particularly severe in California and Florida. however. this occurs with no apparent symptoms in the victim and with no one the wiser that such a thing occurred. (ref) People who practice poor hygiene for one reason or another are at greater risk. is permanent. (visceral larval migrans). You can read about that test here. their curiosity.bird intermediate host that it was designed to infect. (ref) One of the body’s defense cells. These can be folks with diminished mental capacities or those whose work demands that they enter contaminated areas frequently. is the eosinophil. your body defenses will kill and absorb it.You can read about that problem here. In some suburbs and cities in the US. raccoon populations are enormously dense – up to 383 raccoons/square mile (238/km2). the larva will penetrate through the intestinal wall and begin its wandering throughout the body. All intermediate hosts recognize this larva as a foreign invader (foreign protein) and attempt to wall it off with defensive cells and tissue (granuloma). (ref) It is quite likely that (as is the case with most other ascarids (ref 1 & ref 2). once apparent. However. occasionally it is not. that damage. paralysis and mental changes all occur. the symptoms are likely to be much like those seen in children (or adults) who have consumed large numbers of dog roundworm eggs (Toxocara canis) by accident. (ref 1 & ref 2) Young children are most at risk of consuming parasite eggs of all kinds – including Baylisascaris. Young of all species also lack developed ways of fighting these parasite larva once they enter the body. or who increase their exposure to raccoon feces for one reason or another. With extended time. If. Even dog roundworms occasionally cause this. the Baylisascaris larva lodges in the victim’s brain or eye. What Adds To A Person's Risk ?. The first. this granuloma forms in the brain. eyes. I has been difficult for physicians to diagnose Baylisascaris infections in humans with accuracy. If. the body’s attempt to destroy it can damage that organ quite a bit. however. If this granuloma forms in a non-critical area. it is not of much importance. This is because of their tendency to put things in their mouth. It will hatch in your digestive system. Often. loss of vision. Similar occupational . Should large numbers of these raccoon roundworm eggs be eaten. A high eosinophil blood count (eosinophilia) is often the most reliable clue to physicians that a parasite like Baylisascaris might be responsible. and their inability to stand.

What Specific Steps Can I Take To Prevent Exposing Myself Or My Loved Ones To This Parasite ? How Can I Get Raccoons To Leave And Live Somewhere Else ? .hazards exist when it comes to dog roundworms. You can read more about that issue here.

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