CBC News reported last night that parents should be on alert for raccoon roundworm, a rare parasite transmitted through contact with the animal’s feces, which has left a New York infant with brain damage and a teenager blind.
Raccoon roundworm or Baylisascaris procyonis is an extremely rare parasitic infection in humans that can cause nausea, nerve damage and even death.
People become infected by swallowing the parasite’s eggs that are shed in the feces of infected raccoons.
Parents should supervise children to keep them away from raccoon feces, Sally Slavinski, a spokeswoman for the city’s health department, said Monday.
The infant has been hospitalized since suffering seizures and spinal problems last October and now has permanent brain damage.
The infant had a history of eating soil, and swallowing soil contaminated with raccoon feces is the most likely source of infection, the city’s alert said. The 17-year-old lost sight in the right eye in January. Both are from Brooklyn.
"Avoiding Baylisascaris means avoiding ingestion of raccoon stool," veterinarian Scott Weese of the University of Guelph wrote in his blog, Worms & Germs, which promotes safe pet ownership.