Raccoon Roundworm

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March 24, 2014
Categories: General

Raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) is a well-known parasite in raccoons that can also infect humans, household pets and other animals. Raccoons are the primary carriers of this roundworm and it doesn’t affect their health. In humans, however, it causes a severe (often fatal) central nervous system disease. Although it’s rare in humans, it’s not impossible and about a dozen cases of roundworm infection are reported annually. Young children are especially vulnerable to this disease due to their general disregard for hygiene.

Roundworm Lifecycle

Adult raccoons become infected by eating other small animals, such as rats and mice, carrying the parasite. Once the female roundworms are in the small intestine, they will produce millions of eggs per day which are shed out in the feces. Young raccoons then pick up the parasite’s eggs during their daily activities in the den. The life cycle of raccoon roundworm is completed after larva is released in the intestinal tract and develops into adult worms. The same process and cycle occurs in both raccoons and humans and takes approximately 63 days after the eggs have been ingested. After raccoon roundworm eggs become infective second-stage larva in feces, they can survive for many years if the conditions are right.

What Does Raccoon Feces Look Like?

Raccoon droppings look like small dog droppings that are tubular and tapered at the end. Their feces is a dark brown to light black color and has a pungent smell like a messy hamster cage. Their feces often contains undigested partials of food such as seeds, bones and fur from animals they have eaten.

What is a Raccoon Latrine?

A Raccoon latrine is like a giant litter box for cats. It is an area that raccoons will use to defecate and urinate over and over again. In many cases, raccoons will use the same latrines for many years. Latrines are found on roofs, in attics, crawl spaces, under homes, in tree crotches, on woodpiles, along fence lines and foundations of homes or buildings. Latrines are an indication that raccoons have taken up residence nearby or frequently visit the area in search of food. These sites can contain millions of roundworm eggs and are extremely hazardous to humans and pets.

How to Clean up a Latrine

If you discover a raccoon latrine, it is very important to keep children and pets away from the area and clean it up. Cleanup of raccoon latrines can be difficult. The eggs of raccoon roundworm are resistant to all common disinfectants including bleach. Your options are:

  • Flaming the area (including soil) with a blowtorch
  • Pouring boiling water over small areas at a time
  • Removing and burying the soil in a deep spot elsewhere

When cleaning up a raccoon latrine, it is very important that you wear proper protection including a dust mask over the nose and mouth, disposable clothing, disposable gloves and heavy rubber boots that can be cleaned with boiling water.

If There Are Raccoon Feces in Your Attic

Dealing with raccoon roundworm is a very serious matter and the area should be properly cleaned up immediately. If you have raccoons in your attic, you should call us to schedule an appointment. Our technicians are trained to identify and resolve all invasive raccoon problems. Where there are raccoons, there is a latrine, and torching or pouring water on your attic floor is not a viable option. At Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control, we can remove all contaminated materials, including attic insulation, sanitize the area and re-insulate your attic. Our professional attic restoration team has been trained to bring your home back to a healthy livable space. And most homeowners insurance companies will cover the cost and fees associated with any damages caused by raccoons.

Symptoms and Signs or Raccoon Roundworm

Some of the symptoms that appear in humans infected with raccoon roundworm are nausea, skin irritations, tiredness, liver enlargement, loss of coordination and muscle control, blindness, inattentiveness, and coma.

Raccoons rarely show symptoms of the disease, but other wildlife species such as woodchucks, squirrels, and birds tend to show abnormal behaviors when infested. These behaviors may include tilting of the head, difficulty walking or climbing. Some may lose their fear of people, walk around in a circle, roll on the ground, fall over, lie on their sides and paddle their feet, or fall into a coma.

If you have been exposed or suspect there has been exposure to raccoon roundworm, seek medical care immediately. Medical professionals may be able to kill the worms and prevent the disease before they migrate through the body.

Raccoon roundworm is one of the reasons you should address a raccoon problem right away by calling a qualified raccoon removal company in Maryland. If you act fast, raccoons might not have time to establish a latrine and you can avoid the extensive cleanup.

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