USA – Raccoon waste seriously dangerous

HEALTH: Roundworms can be fatal, harm nervous system

BELLINGHAM – The next time you see a raccoon pictured with a park ranger’s hat, imagine it instead with the robe and scythe of the grim reaper.

Bellingham resident Jon Shaughnessy learned about the downside of raccoons soon after he found some of their potentially deadly droppings beneath his porch.

“I said, ‘Whoa, this is serious stuff,’ ” he said. “People die from it.”

He’s right. Read on, but the story isn’t pretty.


Many raccoons have roundworms called Baylisascaris in their intestines. The roundworms produce millions of eggs, which are passed on in the raccoon’s feces. Those hardy eggs can take hold inside people and can cause fatal brain infections.


Infected raccoons have been found throughout the country. The critters often defecate in woodpiles; beneath porches; by and on trees; on decks, roofs and garages; and on flat surfaces such as logs, stumps and large rocks.

When researchers inspected the backyards of 119 suburban Chicago homes, they found raccoon latrines in 61 of them. Fourteen of the latrines had roundworm eggs.

Raccoon droppings, by the way, are generally dark, tubular and blunt in shape, strong-smelling, and often full of seeds and other food debris.


People who ingest the eggs risk illness and death. Once inside your intestines, the eggs hatch into larvae, which can travel to the brain, liver, spinal cord and other parts of your body. Victims often are children who have put infected dirt, objects or water in their mouth.

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