Education and information about Baylisascaris Infection including fact sheets and information on prevention and control, epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment.
I recently handled a baby raccoon that was found in a hollow tree we felled. I was vaguely aware of this disease but after a lot of reading I think all arborists should be aware of it.
Most raccoons are infected and can be shedding millions of eggs in their feces every day. These eggs will last years in the environment and are immune to all common chemical cleaners. Raccoons like to defecate in concentrated areas, which are often elevated flat areas but also at the bases of trees and in large tree crotches. Soil and debris with no visible scat can still be filled with the eggs.
Infection by the larvae is largely asymptomatic and many people have antibodies indicating past exposure (in one study 8% of kids in a city had that indication of past exposure). Once ingested and hatched though, 5-7% of them will find their way to your brain and they also will end up in your eyes. In some cases worker have gotten sick from not washing their hands before eating after coming into contact with raccoon scat in the work environment. Symptoms appear several weeks after exposure and by then it's too late to undo a lot of the damage.
I know you're probably wondering what the point of this is, I guess Id say be aware of the signs that you're working around their nests (hollow trees) or areas they might have contaminated. If you have to rescue or handle their babies, use disposable gloves and thoroughly wash up after. Unless you want 2mm long worms wandering through your organs. Finally, there is medicine for it (albendazole) but it's insanely expensive, two weeks of pills was several thousand dollars and has to be started within days of exposure before they reach the eyes and brain. My exposure was minimal (I didn't touch anything after checking the nest and washed my hands several times right after, but I spent awhile digging through the crumbling nest area to look for more babies) but my insurance wouldn't cover the pills based on cost, so I'm hoping I have a good immune system and that the nest wasn't infested somehow.
This guy lost sight in one eye and wasnt even sure how he was exposed:
From bedbugs to eye worms, travelers and unlucky homebodies know that parasites can infect you at home or abroad.
Didn't know until he had brain damage symptoms: