What Is Raccoon Roundworm?
Baylisascaris procyonis, (raccoon roundworm) is a roundworm that can infect other animals as well as humans.
A high percentage of raccoons are infected with baylisascaris. These roundworms grow in the raccoons’ intestines and produce millions of eggs that are shed into the environment in the Raccoons' Feces. After 2-4 weeks in the environment, eggs become infectious; under the right conditions, eggs can survive in the soil for up to 10 years.
Baylisascariasis is an emerging helminthic zoonosis with the potential for severe infection that may be a more important public health problem than is currently recognized. Educating the medical community is of paramount importance in helping to define the extent of infection. Physicians should consider B. procyonis infection in the differential diagnosis of patients with eosinophilic meningoencephalitis, DUSN, and eosinophilic pseudotumor.
While infants and children have a higher probability of infection, all age groups are at risk. The public should be made aware of the potential risks of exposure to raccoons and raccoon feces. Raccoons should be discouraged as pets or should be routinely evaluated for B. procyonis infection and treated. However, screening and treatment may not be sufficient to prevent exposure, since the likelihood of reinfection is high. The public should be discouraged from feeding raccoons and should ensure that possible food sources (such as pet food, water, and garbage) are protected from raccoon access.
Further study of the impact of larval B. procyonis infection on human health is warranted. Development of a standardized serologic test for B. procyonis would allow epidemiologic studies of its prevalence and incidence and help determine factors associated with infection. A sensitive and specific test would also provide a noninvasive method of diagnosis. Finally, a better understanding of the pathogenesis of B. procyonis infection and efforts to develop effective treatment approaches are warranted.