The Raccoon is very intelligent and they can problem solve. They can get into just about anything and that is why many people think they are a pest. They can open doors, drawers, trash cans, and other items that would normally keep other critters out of your territory. They are excellent climbers and can be high up in the trees in no time at all.
The adaptability and versatility of the Raccoon enables it to live just about anywhere. As a general rule of thumb, anywhere that offers some water and food resources is going to be a great place for this critter to thrive.
Raccoons can be carriers of a lot of different diseases. Some of the more common ones people know are Rabies which is a viral disease, Salmonella, Leptospirosis which is a bacterial infection. One of the diseases they can carry that a lot of people DON’T know about is Baylisascaris (Raccoon Roundworm). Most people don’t know about it because it hasn’t infected thousands of people but it is one of the most dangerous diseases they carry.
Baylisascaris Infection (Raccoon Roundworm)
Raccoons are the primary, or definitive, host of Baylisascarisprocyonis, a roundworm. Raccoons become infected with Baylisascaris in one of two ways:
Young raccoons become infected by eating eggs during foraging, feeding, and grooming.
Adult raccoons acquire the infection by eating rodents, rabbits, and birds infected with the larvae of Baylisascaris.
Raccoons are peridomestic animals, which means they live in or around areas where people live. Roundworm eggs are passed in the feces of infected raccoons. Raccoons defecate in communal sites, called latrines. Raccoon latrines are often found at bases of trees, unsealed attics, or on flat surfaces such as logs, tree stumps, rocks, decks, and rooftops. As more raccoons move into populated areas, the number and density of their latrines will increase.
While raccoons are the roundworm's primary host, other types of animals can become infected. Birds and small mammals, such as rodents and rabbits, are susceptible to the parasite. Unlike raccoons, these animals sometimes show signs of infection, such as muscle spasms, tremors, and progressive weakness; infection can lead to death. Predator animals, including dogs, may become infected by eating an animal that has been infected with Baylisascaris. In some dogs, Baylisascaris may develop to adult worms and pass eggs in the dogs' feces.
The worms develop to maturity in the raccoon intestine, where they produce millions of eggs that are passed in the feces. Eggs that are excreted by raccoons are not immediately infectious. These eggs must develop in the environment for 2 to 4 weeks, after which the eggs are able to cause infection. The eggs are resistant to most environmental conditions and with adequate moisture, can survive for years.
People become infected when they accidentally ingest infective eggs in soil, water, or on objects that have been contaminated with raccoon feces. Anyone who is exposed to environments where raccoons frequent is potentially at risk. Young children or developmentally disabled persons are at highest risk for infection as they may be more likely to put contaminated fingers, soil, or objects into their mouths. Baylisascaris infection is not spread from one person to another. When humans ingest these eggs, they hatch into larvae in the person's intestine and travel throughout the body, affecting the organs and muscles.
Depending on where the larvae migrate, Baylisascaris infection can affect the brain and spinal cord (neural larva migrans), the eye (ocular larva migrans), and/or other organs (visceral larva migrans).
Signs and symptoms depend on how many eggs are ingested and where in the body the larvae migrate (travel). Ingesting a few eggs may cause few or no symptoms, while ingesting large numbers of eggs may lead to serious symptoms. Symptoms of infection may take a week or so to develop and may include:
Loss of coordination
Lack of attention to people and surroundings
Loss of muscle control
Some Information Credited to the CDC.GOV