Raccoons can pose a threat to health

This letter is in response to the letter written by Brenda Collier that was published in the Penticton Western News on Sept. 30.

This letter is in response to the letter written by Brenda Collier that was published in the Penticton Western News on Sept. 30. These are facts that are available for anyone to look up on the Internet, facts that will make your skin crawl. Look it up for yourself, especially those of you who are sitting on council and do not think this is something you should be concerned about or wish to take into serious consideration. If this was in your neighbourhood or your garden, it was a threat to you and your family at this very moment as it is for us here only one block from Penticton City Hall.

Now here is a roundworm you do not hear that much about, and hopefully you will never meet. But if you do, it is serious. Baylisascaris procyonis is a roundworm of raccoons. It does not cause severe disease in raccoons except in the young who may develop intestinal obstructions. The real hazard is when it infects humans or dogs. In man, it causes a condition called neural larva migrans, or cerebrospinal nematodiasis. This is a rare disease, but is serious and often fatal.

Besides dogs and humans, there are 17 other species of mammals and 19 species of birds that can serve as intermediate hosts of B. procyonis. In raccoons, B. procyonis lives in the small intestine. In man, dogs, and intermediate hosts, B. procyonis invades body organs, the central nervous system and the eyes.

How does B. procyonis cause disease in humans and dogs?

When people or dogs accidentally ingest B. procyonis eggs, the larvae hatch and then migrate. Injury to humans and dogs is a result of the extensive damage caused by the migrating larvae. As the larvae migrate through the host’s tissues, they grow much larger in size, though they are still microscopic. Their relatively large size results in considerable mechanical damage as they migrate and the host’s body produces a very strong inflammatory response. These inflammatory reactions are a major cause of damage in the CNS.

When large numbers of larvae are ingested, the possibility of CNS disease increases. Severe signs of disease can develop within two to four weeks of ingestion. Signs of disease include loss of coordination, lethargy and stupor that progresses to coma and death.

Disease can also occur if the larvae migrate to the eye. Signs include photophobia (light sensitivity) and vision loss. Larvae migrating through other body organs can produce symptoms such as fever, enlarged liver and respiratory problems.

Since raccoons may be found in both rural and urban settings, the potential for human infection is high. Human infections have been associated with woodpiles and contaminated chimneys. Keeping raccoons as pets poses a direct threat. Wildlife rehabilitators working with raccoons and young children with poor hygiene are also more likely to be exposed.

What is the treatment for B. procyonis infection?

This is the really scary part. There is currently no treatment for B. procyonis infection in man or domestic animals. Even if a treatment is later identified, its benefit will be of questionable value since much of the damage already done by the migrating larvae is permanent.

If larvae are seen in the retina, it is sometimes possible to destroy them through laser therapy. But, again, much of the damage is permanent and eyesight may or may not improve.

Raccoons, in rehabilitation or otherwise confined, should be treated every one to two weeks for three to four treatments with any of the common wormers used to treat roundworms in dogs, e.g., piperazine, pyrantel pamoate and fenbendazole. The efficacy of ivermectin is unknown.

The powers that be had better reconsider how dangerous this can be, and the poor woman who was bitten protecting her property and pets. Heaven forbid someone’s child gets savaged by one of these large aggressive raccoons.

Estelle Sankey

Penticton

Just Posted

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Four golfers from Fairview Mountain Golf Club in Oliver will golf from sunrise to sunset to raise funds for ALS on June 29. (Submitted)
Golfing from sunrise to sunset in Oliver for ALS

Four golfers from Fairview Mountain Golf Club have taken up the challenge June 29

Jann Arden will embark on Canada-wide tour Spring 2022 with a stop in Penticton at the South Okanagan Events Centre on June 13. (Contributed)
Jann Arden coming to Penticton in 2022

The Jann Arden Live! tour has been rescheduled for 2022

A storm watch has been issued for the Okanagan, Kootenays and Columbia regions of B.C. (Calvin Dickson photo)
Another severe thunderstorm watch issued for the Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for thunderstorms that may produce strong wind gusts, hail and heavy rain

The South Okanagan Tim Hortons raised over $4,000 through the three day orange doughnut promotion with 100 per cent of proceeds going to to the Residential School Survivors Society. The owner of these locations matched the amount. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
South Okanagan Tim Hortons raises over $8K for residential school survivors

More than $4,000 worth of doughnuts were purchased over three days

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

Most Read