Biology & Disease Information on Raccoons

Raccoons

More and more people are coming in contact with raccoons. As a result, The Pest Detective® is entering the nuisance animal control market. This contact increases the likelihood of contracting diseases related to raccoons like roundworm or Baylisacaris procyonis.


Furthermore, raccoons are major carriers of rabies in the Eastern and Northeastern U.S. Some more facts you should know about raccoons include:


  • Often establish dens in chimneys
  • Easily manoeuver past a flimsy or poorly installed chimney cap
  • Very protective of their young & will tear apart a roof if one of her youngsters is trapped inside
  • Seeks shelter under porches or decks
  • Dangerous when provoked, trapped or rabid


Biology


Raccoons defecate at specific sites called latrines. Roundworm eggs in these feces will build up to large numbers at these sites. If humans ingest these eggs at the right time in their development, larval roundworms may migrate inside the body to a site where some harm can be done.


In adults the most severe common problem is migration to the eye where vision loss can occur. In small children, the larvae may migrate to the brain where death can occur. Three or four fatalities have been reported.


In raccoons, the disease can also enter the brain and cause the raccoons to behave abnormally. Eggs are ingested by mice, groundhogs and other rodents, and are in turn eaten by forging raccoons and the cycle goes on. Immature raccoons can also ingest the eggs and become infected.


The roundworm is endemic in the United States, most commonly in the Northern States.


Prevention, Safety & Decontamination


Small children, because of poorer personal hygiene practices and their propensity to put foreign objects in their mouths, are most at risk. Preventing access to raccoon feces is the best way to prevent infection. Raccoons kept as pets should be regularly de-wormed.


Areas contaminated by feces should be disinfected. Hard surfaces such as cages and cement should be flamed with a torch to kill the eggs. Some solvents will kill the eggs, but are impractical to use. Clorox and such will cause the eggs to not adhere to surfaces, but will not kill the eggs. Contaminated soil can be flamed, turned and flamed again. Contaminated organic matter such as straw or wood can be burned or disposed.


Working in contaminated areas requires care. Rubber gloves, disposable clothing and dust masks should be worn.


The information contained in NPCA's technical publications should not be construed as standards of the Association. The information describes methods and procedures that should be regarded as recommendations or optional guidelines. Each company or person using or distributing this publication is responsible for ensuring its accuracy and applicability at the time and under the circumstances used or distributed. This release is subject to periodic review and update by NPCA technical staff. This report was written by the NPCA Vertebrate Control Committee.

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