Raccoon Ringworm parasite in the work environment

castanea

Member

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:

Didn't know until he had brain damage symptoms:
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
I have been hit hard by parasites in the past - this course takes a couple of months but have to do it properly. Stay off alcohol and pharmaceuticals if possible to protect your liver, and try to get min 8hrs sleep so organs can rebuild damage (from parasites) overnight otherwise damage can be cumulative..,

 
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Bango Skank

Well-Known Member
Title should be " roundworm" , not " ringworm" correct? A parasitic animal, not a fungal infection. Or am I mistaken? Treatment is albendazole, which treats a fungal infection like all drugs ending in " azole", but the article does indeed say it's used for this roundworm.
Forgive if I seem nitpicky and also if I'm wrong and making shit more confusing, and thanks for raising the issue. Pretty frightening.
 
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Woodwork

Active Member
Don't know about elsewhere in the country, but here in coastal Virginia, there are some deserted barrier islands along the Atlantic coast, and every few years the Fish and Game people go out and trap raccoons and check them for rabies, and IIRC something like 30% of them test positive for rabies...around here, at least, I would avoid handling coons at all cost. I've seen a number of them that were clearly sick with something...distemper maybe, if not rabies.

Also, FWIW, a lot of drugs that end in "azole" are for parasites, for example fenbendazole, flubendazole, oxibendazole, mebendazole, etc.

A series of rabies injections will make parasite medicine tame by comparison...and God help you if you don't realize you've got it. Not a nice way to die, I'm sure.
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
Don't know about elsewhere in the country, but here in coastal Virginia, there are some deserted barrier islands along the Atlantic coast, and every few years the Fish and Game people go out and trap raccoons and check them for rabies, and IIRC something like 30% of them test positive for rabies...around here, at least, I would avoid handling coons at all cost. I've seen a number of them that were clearly sick with something...distemper maybe, if not rabies.

Also, FWIW, a lot of drugs that end in "azole" are for parasites, for example fenbendazole, flubendazole, oxibendazole, mebendazole, etc.

A series of rabies injections will make parasite medicine tame by comparison...and God help you if you don't realize you've got it. Not a nice way to die, I'm sure.
Haven’t even read up a heap on rabies, but what is the treatment like to experience?
 

Woodwork

Active Member
Haven’t even read up a heap on rabies, but what is the treatment like to experience?
I think it's a lot less than it used to be... not sure, but I think several injections over an extended period. In the old days, I think you had to get a whole bunch of painful shots in the belly.
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
Yes my experience with rabies is the sum total of watching Cujo. Thought about being tomb raider once but had vampire bats hanging off roof of buried temples so thought better of it.... I have heard of squirrels getting it - is it something you factor regularly doing tree work in USA?
 

Woodwork

Active Member
Supposedly any mammal can get rabies. It makes sense that coons or skunks would get it from eating carrion of animals that died from rabies. And I guess a squirrel could get it from being attacked by a rabid coon. But bats? That never really made sense to me since most bats eat bugs. I guess if a mosquito bit a rabid animal and then got eaten by a bat...? Dunno.
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
Vampire bats lick blood seeping from a bite - apparently nearly painless so probably equivalent to mosquito bite...
 

rico

Well-Known Member
Any respectable hillbilly is taught at a very early age to stay the hell away from raccoons and their poop.

Traditional cultures who live with nature have been doing parasite cleanses since the dawn of time. Usually multiple times a year. Getting through life without picking up parasites is damn near impossible, and modern America would be a whole lot healthier if they followed this old school wisdom.
 
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