Pest Away Tips

8 Essential Tips for Dealing with Raccoon Feces and Diseases

Raccoons are fascinating and unpredictable creatures that are often a sight to behold in the wild. Their distinctive black masks and bushy tails give them a unique appearance that sets them apart from other wildlife.

Despite their cute and charming demeanor, raccoons can pose a serious health hazard to humans and their pets. In this article, we will explore the significance of raccoon feces and the types of diseases and parasites that can be transmitted through them.

Part One: Raccoon Feces and Identification

Appearance of Raccoon Feces:

Raccoon feces are usually tube-shaped with a diameter of 1-2 inches. When freshly deposited, they appear dark and moist, but after a few days, they dry out and turn to a light brown or gray color.

They often contain undigested seeds and berries, which are an essential part of the raccoon’s diet. If you come across raccoon feces, never touch them with bare hands, as they may contain harmful bacteria and viruses.

Location of Raccoon Feces:

Raccoons are adaptable and can thrive in both natural and human environments. In natural environments, they prefer to make communal latrines, where they will return to defecate over time.

These latrines can accumulate fresh scats as well as old scats, which can pose a health hazard. In human environments, raccoons may defecate in pool water or attics, and they can be found in lawns where they search for food.

Burying Habits and Latrines:

Raccoons are notorious for their communal defecation habits. They are known to make raccoon latrines, where they deposit their feces in a particular spot on a regular basis.

These latrines can be found in open areas such as decks, rooftops, lawns, and attics. The accumulation of feces in these locations over time can increase the risk of disease transmission.

It’s essential to clean up these areas and avoid contact with fresh or old raccoon feces. Part Two: Parasites and Infectious Diseases

Raccoon Roundworms and Eggs:

One of the most common parasites that raccoons carry is called Baylisascaris procyonis.

This parasite lives in the intestines of raccoons and produces infective eggs that can be shed in their feces. When these eggs are ingested by humans or animals, they hatch and release larvae that migrate through the body.

This invasion can cause organ damage, blindness, neurological deficiency, and even death. Raccoon Roundworm Infection:

Baylisascaris procyonis eggs are often embryonated, which means they become infective in the environment.

These eggs can survive in the soil, water, and other natural environments for years. When an intermediate host like a small rodent ingests the eggs, the larvae migrate through their body and infect them.

When a definitive host like a human ingests the larvae, the parasite will develop into an adult worm in the intestines. Baylisascariasis Disease:

Baylisascariasis disease is a severe condition caused by the migration of Baylisascaris larvae through organs and tissues.

The disease can manifest as visceral larva migrans, ocular larva migrans, or neural larva migrans. In visceral larva migrans, the larvae migrate through the organs causing inflammation, damage, and dysfunction.

Ocular larva migrans can cause blindness, while neural larva migrans can cause severe neurological damage. Early detection and treatment of this disease are critical as it can be lethal.

Conclusion:

Raccoon feces can be harmful if not handled correctly, and the diseases and parasites they carry can range from mild to lethal. It’s essential to avoid exposure to raccoon feces by wearing gloves and protective clothing when cleaning up the latrines.

Pets should also be kept away from these areas to prevent accidental ingestion of feces. If you suspect that you or your pet is infected with Baylisascaris procyonis, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

By taking these precautions, you can coexist with raccoons without putting yourself or your pets at risk. Baylisascariasis in Humans:

Baylisascariasis is a severe disease caused by the accidental ingestion of Baylisascaris procyonis eggs that are shed in raccoon feces.

When humans ingest these eggs, they hatch inside their bodies, releasing larvae that can migrate to various organs. The visceral (organ) form of the disease is typically seen in children who accidentally ingest raccoon feces while playing.

The symptoms can range from mild to severe, with signs like cough, headaches, nausea, and confusion, progressing to serious neurologic signs like seizures, coma, and even death. Baylisascariasis is a rare but underdiagnosed disease, with human cases reported in about 30 states in the US.

Raccoon Feces and Cats:

Cats can become infected with Baylisascaris procyonis by ingesting intermediate hosts like rodents that carry the parasite’s larvae. However, cats can also acquire the infection by directly ingesting raccoon feces.

The infection can cause severe damage to the cat’s organs, and in severe cases, it can be fatal. Symptoms like lethargy, loss of appetite, and neurological signs like seizures and ataxia can mimic those seen with other feline diseases like rabies.

Therefore, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian immediately if your cat exhibits any unusual signs or symptoms. Raccoon Diseases and Dogs:

Raccoons can transmit several deadly and contagious diseases to dogs through bites, scratches, or indirect contact with their saliva, urine, or feces.

One of the most significant risks is rabies, a viral disease that attacks the dog’s nervous system, causing neurologic signs like agitation, seizures, and aggression. Another common disease is canine distemper, a viral disease that can affect dogs of all ages and cause respiratory signs, neurological signs, and even death.

Raccoon roundworm is another parasite that can infect dogs and cause severe neurologic signs, particularly in young dogs. If your dog exhibits any unusual signs like lethargy, ataxia, or seizures, consult a veterinarian immediately.

Raccoon Feces Clean-up:

Cleaning up raccoon feces requires protective gear like gloves, boots, and masks to prevent contact with harmful bacteria and parasites. Use shovels and garbage bags to collect the feces and dispose of them in incinerators or sealed landfills.

Use disinfectants like bleach or hydrogen peroxide to clean the area thoroughly and avoid future contact. Repair any holes or vents in your home’s structure to prevent raccoons from making their way back.

Pool Water Cleaning:

Raccoons may defecate in swimming pools, especially if they access them during the night. If you discover raccoon feces in your pool, don’t try to remove it with your hands.

Use a skimmer or a net to scoop out the feces, then filter the pool water through a sand or cartridge filter. Afterward, backwash the filter and discard the filter material.

Use a pool cover to prevent access to the shallow areas of the pool during the night. Yard Cleaning and Prevention:

Raccoons are attracted to yards that offer easy access to food sources like pet food, garbage, and compost piles.

Keep these items in secure containers or inside your house to avoid attracting raccoons. Keep bird feeders out of reach and clear any berry bushes or fruit trees that may attract raccoons.

Keep your yard well-lit at night and trim any branches or structures that may provide raccoons with access to your home. Consider installing motion-activated sprinklers or ultrasonic devices that can deter raccoons from approaching your property.

In conclusion, raccoon feces can pose a significant risk to human and animal health, and it’s essential to take precautions to avoid exposure. If you suspect that you or your pet is infected with Baylisascaris procyonis or other raccoon-borne diseases, seek immediate medical attention.

By cleaning up raccoon feces and taking preventative measures, you can minimize the risk of raccoon-borne diseases and safely enjoy your environment. In conclusion, understanding the potential risks associated with raccoon feces is crucial for protecting both human and animal health.

Raccoon-borne diseases like Baylisascariasis pose a serious threat, and it’s important to take preventative measures to avoid exposure. Proper cleaning and disposal of raccoon feces, as well as taking steps to remove food sources and secure your property, can significantly minimize the risk of infection.

By being informed and taking appropriate action, we can coexist with raccoons safely and enjoy our natural surroundings without putting ourselves or our pets in harm’s way.

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