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What is Baylisascaris procyonis?
Baylisascaris procyonis is a roundworm parasite found in intestines of raccoons. This roundworm can infect people as well as a variety of other animals including dogs. The infection in humans is rare, but can be severe if the parasites infect the eye, brain, spinal cord, and/or other organs.
How is Baylisascaris procyonis spread?
People can become infected with this parasite when they ingest eggs found in soil, water, or on objects that have been contaminated with raccoon feces. The eggs can survive in the environment for a long time as they are resistant to most environmental conditions.
Children are at a higher risk as they may put contaminated fingers, soil or objects in their mouth.
Can the parasite spread from person to person?
The infection is not contagious, so one person cannot give the infection to another.
What are the signs and symptoms of Baylisascaris procyonis?
The signs and symptoms may appear as early as 1 to 4 weeks following exposure, although it may take as long as 2 months. The interval and severity of signs and symptoms depend on how many eggs are ingested. The eggs hatch into larvae and then cause disease by travelling to brain, spinal cord, eyes and other organs. Some of the signs and symptoms are:
- Liver enlargement
- Loss of coordination
- Lack of attention to people and surroundings
- Loss of muscle control
What should I do if I think I am infected with Baylisascaris procyonis?
Please see your health care provider to discuss your concerns.
How can I prevent Baylisascaris procyonis infection?
- Wash your hands after playing or working outdoors.
- Avoid contact with raccoons and their feces.
- Do not feed or keep wild animals, including raccoons, as pets.
- Remove raccoon defecation sites (latrines) as they pose the highest risk. This can be done by pest control companies or by following CDC recommendations.
For additional information on Baylisascaris procyonis, visit the CDC website.