Raccoons are Cute, But Dangerous

By Susan Aiello • Published: September 1st, 2011
Category: Animal Airwaves

Raccoons are cute, but they can be dangerous. These furry bandits often damage property and potentially carry rabies.

But it’s their intestinal worms that have recently raised concern. More than three-quarters of raccoons are infected with a roundworm called Baylisascaris procyonis. [Bay-liss-ass′-care-iss pro-sigh-on′-iss] Every day, an infected coon can shed nearly fifty million roundworm eggs, which can survive in soil for years.

If people ingest the eggs, newly hatched larvae wander within the body and frequently migrate to the brain.

The good news is that few human infections have been reported. The bad news is that many reported cases are fatal.

To stay safe, always wash hands after handling soil and make sure to wash children’s hands after playing in dirt. Avoid raccoon droppings, and don’t feed raccoons or otherwise encourage their presence near people. Remember, cute doesn’t always mean safe.