The Prevalence of Brain-Eating Roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis in Merrick County, Nebraska

(1) Central City High School, Central City, Nebraska
Cover photo for The Prevalence of Brain-Eating Roundworm <i>Baylisascaris procyonis</i> in Merrick County, Nebraska

We conducted a study in Merrick County, Nebraska, to compare how the prevalence of Baylisascaris procyonis (raccoon roundworm) differs depending on the proximity of its host to human dwellings. We hypothesized that the prevalence and egg count of B. procyonis in Procyon lotor (raccoons) would be higher closer to human dwellings and that there would be more samples with parasites than without. To test these hypotheses, we performed necropsies and fecal flotation on 40 raccoon carcasses. 60% of the samples were positive for B. procyonis, and 40% were negative. We found that the disease was significantly more prevalent in areas closer to human dwellings. Although there was a small difference in the number of eggs between the groups, this difference was not statistically significant. More extensive testing should be conducted on the transmission of B. procyonis, as well as determining how prevalent it is in household pets and farm animals. Continued research of this nature is very important because B. procyonis can be lethal to humans. It is important to make the public aware of this disease, so precautions can be taken to avoid transmission.

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