Baylisascaris procyonis is a large parasitic nematode found in the small intestines of raccoons (Procyon lotor), the definitive host, and causes larva migrans in humans and other animals. Humans can become infected by ingesting B. procyonis eggs, which can remain viable in the environment for years and adhere to vegetation, soil, water, raccoon feces, or hands. Parasitic infections manifest in humans with neural and ocular larva migrans, characterized by clinical symptoms of head and body tilt, circling, recumbency, ataxia, blindness, nervous behavior, paralysis, and coma, leading to death. Prevalence of B. procyonis in humans is unknown. However, human cases may be more common in endemic areas than initially suspected because humans with low-level infections may not develop clinical signs and can go undiagnosed. Therefore, the prevalence of human B. procyonis infections can be high, especially in endemic areas where suburban sprawl increases the likelihood of frequent human contact with raccoons and their latrines. We surveyed adults from Texas to ascertain their knowledge of raccoon behavior and of B. procyonis as a potential zoonotic disease. No differences were observed in responses due to gender, ethnicity, age, or education level. In general, Texans had superficial knowledge of raccoon behavior and virtually no knowledge of B. procyonis and its inherent dangers as a zoonotic disease. Due to the apparent limited public awareness about the potential clinical hazards presented by B. procyonis, greater public education efforts are warranted.
Ogdee, Jacob L.; Henke, Scott E.; and Wester, David B.
"Lack of human awareness and the need for increased public education regarding the zoonotic parasite, Baylisascaris procyonis,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 10
, Article 12.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol10/iss2/12