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Would you please be so kind to take your raccoon off my table or do I have to suffer an early death?

Ahhh, the infamous raccoon roundworm. Pretty widespread in the U.S. of A., this nasty little critter normally lives in it's adult stage in the intestine of the common raccoon, the funny little mammals we all like to shoo out of our garbage. When the adorable little raccoon poos onto the ground, millions of encapsuled eggs are being shed as well, and easily find the way into OUR gut after we've been out in the woods picking berrys (and maybe sticking our finger in our mouth/nose) or playing in the garden and having our hands full of good, patriotic, american soil - and then sticking it into our nose or mouth (washing of hands: not only important in various world religions, but also quite hygienic).

As soon as the eggs hatch in our gut, the larvae start moving, or should I say penetrating, because that's what they do: they penetrate the surrounding tissues in every direction possible: liver, central nervous system, spinal cord, eyes, brain, you name it. This stage is called larva migrans (the migrating larva. Haha!), and will make you quite uncomfortable, depending on where the little bastards are.

The symptoms include nausea, tiredness, liver enlargement, lack of coordination, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of muscle control, coma, and blindness.

Oh, yes: and death.

Can we fix it?

No we can't.

Unfortunately by the time infection is widespread, anti-inflammatories and antihelmintics might be too late, as diagnosis comes notoriously late and needs high resolution imaging equipment. Fortunately only infections with a large amount of ingested eggs are dangerous, so you can all exhale again.

Nevertheless, shoo that racoon off the porch.

Just in case....

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/baylisacaris/default.htm
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5051a1.htm

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