This post has been updated with new information as of October 2, 2008.
An article was published on Sunday in a local Guelph newspaper about a 14-month-old child who has been battling infection with Baylisascaris larvae in a Hamilton (Ontario) hospital for the last two weeks. This comes on the heals of a very recent Worms & Germs post about Baylisascaris procyonis – the raccoon roundworm.
The disease caused by migration of Baylisascaris larvae through the body – visceral larval migrans – is uncommonly diagnosed in North America, although it may be more common than we think because it is difficult to diagnose with certainty, and the signs in mild cases may be very non-specific. The most severe form of the disease is called neural larval migrans, which occurs when the larvae migrate through the brain or spinal cord, as in this most recent case.
The parents of the toddler in the article, a toddler who is still blind and cannot sit up on his own as a result of his infection, have a message for parents: keep raccoons out of your yard and away from your house. The disease may be rare, but the effects can be devastating, and the risk can be significantly reduced by a few simple steps:
- Keep garbage in tightly-sealed containers.
- Clear brush and seal openings in buildings where raccoons may nest or form latrines.
- If you find raccoon stool or what appears to be a raccoon latrine on your property, clean it up very carefully. Follow this link for more information on identifying and cleaning up raccoon latrines.
- Always wash your hands well after you’ve been working outside in soil, dirt or water which could be contaminated with raccoon feces.
For more information, see the last Worms & Germs post about Baylisascaris.