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Take Steps to Discourage Raccoons On Your Property

By Chris Williams on September 13, 2016.

Raccoons can be charming and fun to watch but they can also be harmful to your health. Besides the risk of rabies, raccoons pose another health risk that few people are aware of – raccoon roundworm (see Raccoons Can Be Hazardous to Your Health).

People acquire the roundworm parasite from raccoon feces. The parasite, Baylisascaris procyonis, is most common in raccoons along the West Coast, the Midwestern U.S., and the Northeastern U.S. Since raccoon roundworm infection (called baylisascariasis) is not a reportable disease and there is no definitive test for it, no one is quite sure just how common it is in these areas. Only 22 documented U.S. cases were known from 1973-2010. A recent research study of 7 documented cases from 2013-2015 included that of a Massachusetts’s woman who acquired the parasite while hiking in an area where raccoons occurred. She was hospitalized for several weeks but fully recovered.

How Do You Get Raccoon Roundworm?

Raccoons don’t do their bathroom business just anywhere, they prefer their own version of a public restroom. Raccoon “latrines” are communal sites where multiple raccoons defecate. When a raccoon poops, most of the time that feces also contains thousands of microscopic roundworm eggs. People become infected when they accidentally swallow the eggs, either by eating dirt or when children put contaminated hands or objects in their mouths.

Once swallowed, roundworm larvae hatch from the eggs and migrate in the body through the brain, eyes, or other organs. If the condition is not treated right away, it can result in severe neurological outcomes, including eye damage and blindness, and even death.

How Can You Prevent Raccoon Roundworm?

The ways to prevent infection with raccoon roundworm are frequent handwashing and monitoring of children at play outside. Always wash your hands after working in the garden, stacking firewood, or after any contact with the soil. Cleaning up and removing raccoon latrines is crucial. Take precautions, including use of a respirator, if you do this job yourself. If you have raccoons denning on your property or frequenting your property, consider having them trapped by a wildlife removal specialist. At Colonial Pest, we have certified wildlife removal experts on staff who specialize in humane removal of pest animals such as raccoons (see Have Raccoons Removed Before the Young Are Born).

For more on managing raccoons on your property, see these Colonial blogs:

Photo Credit : Pixabay

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