Raccoon Roundworm


Commonly Infected Wildlife

Raccoons; many mammals; many birds.

Is This Animal Infected?

This roundworm infects a high percentage of raccoons throughout North America.

Infected raccoons often appear normal, with no outward sign of infection.

The adult stage lives in the raccoon’s intestine. Eggs are shed though feces.

Few other parasites are as indiscriminate in causing neurologic disease in wild, zoo, and domestic animals as well as human beings.

Can I Get It?

Yes. Adult worms release eggs that are shed into the feces of raccoons. People become infected by ingesting feces through improper hygiene. Children are especially susceptible.

How bad can it get?

This disease can be fatal.

Symptoms in humans

  • This disease is rare in humans, but it is very serious if contracted.
  • Symptoms include nausea, fatigue, loss of motor skills, damage to eyes, damage to eyes, blindness, and possibly death.
Closeup of raccoon intestine infected with raccoon ringworm
Gompper Lab, University of Missouri

Protect Myself and Others

When handling live raccoons or their feces, pelts, or carcasses,

  • wash your hands frequently,
  • wear protective clothing, including gloves, and
  • disinfect your work space.

Safe for Pets?


What Causes It?

The roundworm is called Baylisascaris procyonis. It is found primarily in raccoons, but it can infect more than 170 species of mammals and birds in North America.