What is Raccoon Roundworm?
Raccoons are host to an intestinal parasite called Baylisascaris procyonis, or raccoon roundworm. This parasite is harmless to raccoons, but has the potential to be harmful—and even fatal—to other species, including humans. The parasite is transmitted by ingesting the eggs of the roundworm, which are in raccoon feces.
Remember that you have to actually ingest the feces to become infected. Transmission to humans is extremely rare for this reason. Some basic precautions will keep you and your family safe.
Do not handle raccoon feces
This should go without saying. If raccoons have left a mess for you to clean up, protect yourself while doing it. Wear a mask and gloves. If the feces are old and dry, spray them with water first to keep the dust from floating in the air. Hard surfaces can be steam-cleaned to kill the eggs. See this page for how to discourage raccoons from latrine sites.
If your children have a sandbox in the backyard, make sure it has a secure cover. And don’t allow very young children (those likely to put things in their mouths) to play unsupervised in areas that might have raccoon poop – wood piles, under porches, etc.
Interestingly, both cats and dogs also carry their own roundworm species that can have similar effects in humans and other species. The difference is that our pets are usually dewormed regularly, so don’t go on to spread it.