One of the fast emerging infectious diseases is a parasitic infection by the name raccoon roundworm. The Latin name for raccoon roundworm is Baylisascaris procyonis. It inhabits the raccoon's intestines, and are uncommon nematodes that can also infect humans. These roundworms are spread around United States and Canada. Raccoon roundworm treatment in humans is very difficult, especially if the worms migrate to various organs within the body. Let us go into the details of raccoon roundworm infection in humans for more details.
Raccoon roundworm infection is very uncommon in humans. This parasite inhabits the small intestine of raccoons. It can even infect other animals like mice, rabbits, squirrels, birds, dogs and woodchucks. These animals are also uncommon hosts for this parasite. The roundworm finds it way into human body after one accidentally ingests the eggs. There are millions of roundworm eggs are shed through raccoon feces. These eggs take about a month before they enter the infective stage. The eggs are able to survive for many years in water, soil and even in dry sand. When one comes in contact with raccoon droppings or soil infected with raccoon droppings. An infection can lead to serious complications and may even prove to be fatal in humans.
The most common human hosts for these parasites are children. Children love playing in mud and soil. They may not wash their hands and may ingest food and drinks with their dirty hands. Thus, the tiny roundworm eggs gain entry into the body. Many times when toys, spoons, wood chips and other objects come in contact with infected soil or water, and these objects are placed in mouth, it can lead to a roundworm infection in children. The eggs hatch and the larvae will travel through the body. They can travel through the muscles, liver, brain, lungs as well as eyes. The severity of the infection depends on the number of roundworm eggs entering the body system. Animals on the other hand are infected when they eat an infected animal, feces or come in contact with objects and food contaminates with roundworm eggs.
The symptoms of raccoon roundworm take about a week to develop. The symptoms develop only after the larvae begin to enter the body and migrate to other parts. The larvae travels to the brain, lungs, liver, intestine, skin, etc, and form cysts that encapsulate the parasite. This leads to symptoms such as skin irritation, brain damage, liver enlargement, breathing problems, etc. When the larvae travels to the eye it causes eye damage and even loss of vision in extreme cases. Apart from this, other symptoms include loss of coordination, muscle control, lethargy, concentration problems and coma,
It is very difficult to diagnose presence of raccoon roundworm in humans. It is thus, misdiagnosed as some other ailment. Blood panels and complete blood counts are used to determine presence of these parasites. Tissue biopsies, eye examination, also help determine roundworm infection.
As mentioned earlier, there is no specific treatment for humans. If a person suspects being exposed to the parasite, they should seek immediate medical attention. It is always better to kill the parasite before it can travel around the body. Once the worm migrates, it leads to many serious complications. The doctor may suggest medications like piperazine, pyrantel pamoate and levamisole. If the parasite travels down the body, there is no treatment that helps kill them. In case they travel to the eye, the doctor may carry out laser therapy to kill the worm. However, the eye damage caused by the parasite will remain irreversible.
As you can see, there is no specific raccoon roundworm treatment available. In severe infestation, it can prove to be a fatal infection. Thus, prevention is the key here. If one works in an area infested with raccoon feces, they should wear a face mask, rubber boots, rubber gloves, and disposable overalls. Any material suspected to be contaminated with raccoon feces should be burned. Disinfectants are not very helpful in killing the B. procyonis eggs. Clothing that is suspected to be contaminated should be washed in boiling water with bleach or discarded. Boots and gloves should be scrubbed clean with a brush. You should regularly deworm your pets. Children should be asked to stay away from areas that are frequented by raccoons. Make sure you teach them to wash their hands thoroughly and keep their nails short.
It is very hard to detect B. procyonis infection in humans and even more difficult to treat it. Thus, make sure you take all the precautions to prevent an infection, especially if you share your neighborhood with raccoon territory.