Of all the pests that can invade your property, raccoons can be the most complex. They’re intelligent creatures that can rummage through your yard and dig through your trash with wild abandon. And when they leave their droppings behind, they’re leaving more than just an unpleasant mess. There’s a good chance they’re also leaving behind a dangerous parasite that can easily be transmitted to human hosts. Here’s what you need to know about raccoon roundworm.
What Is Raccoon Roundworm?
Raccoon roundworm is scientifically known as Baylisascaris procyonis. It is a parasite that can produce over 100,000 eggs per day, with each egg being almost microscopic in size. In fact, over 400 raccoon roundworm eggs could fit on the head of a pin. These eggs are introduced to their environment when they are shed by raccoons via their droppings. After being excreted, it takes the eggs about two to four weeks to become infective.
This roundworm can be quite common amongst raccoons. In a study conducted by UC Santa Barbara, over 90 percent of urban raccoons were observed to be hosting the parasite. Equally troubling is the staying power of raccoon roundworm eggs. Once they become infective, they can remain as such for over a year without being ingested by a new host.
To make matters more complicated, it is usually difficult to determine when a raccoon is carrying this parasite. An infected raccoon does not show any symptoms, unless it is carrying so many roundworms that it starts to suffer from intestinal blockage. If this is the case, it may start to appear lethargic, and its coat of fur will appear messy and unkempt.
The Effects of Raccoon Roundworm
The real trouble begins when raccoon roundworm is passed to a new host. In addition to humans, the parasite can also be passed to dogs, cats, rodents, and birds. Once inside the body, roundworm eggs hatch and migrate through the body. This infection is known as baylisascariasis, and can cause symptoms like tiredness, nausea, loss of coordination, and enlargement of the liver. Serious cases can even result in blindness or comas.
Anyone exposed to an area of high raccoon traffic should be aware of this parasite. Young children are especially vulnerable, as they spend lots of time outdoors and may put dirty fingers into their mouths. However, people of all ages should exhibit care in areas where raccoons are present. If you spot raccoon droppings, do not handle them without gloves. A protective face mask is also a good precaution to take. Droppings should either be burned or buried with a shovel, and surfaces that come in contact with them should be cleaned with boiling water.
The best step you can take in reducing the risk of raccoon roundworm is, of course, reducing the presence of raccoons. At Critter Ridder, we practice humane and eco-friendly animal removal. Apart from raccoons, we also remove rodents, birds, bats, snakes, skunks, and more.
If you have a Central Texas pest problem, contact Critter Ridder today, and we’ll start taking the necessary steps to improve the health and safety of your household.