Journal Article

Raccoon Roundworm Encephalitis

Larry J. Strausbaugh, William J. Murray and Kevin R. Kazacos

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 39, issue 10, pages 1484-1492
Published in print November 2004 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online November 2004 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI:
Raccoon Roundworm Encephalitis

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The raccoon roundworm, Baylisascaris procyonis, is increasingly recognized as a cause of zoonotic visceral, ocular, and neural larva migrans and, in particular, of devastating encephalitis in young children. Exposure occurs mainly at raccoon latrines, where large numbers of infective eggs may be accidentally ingested. Risk factors for infection include contact with raccoon latrines, pica/geophagia, age of <4 years, and male sex. The severity of central nervous system (CNS) disease depends on the number of eggs ingested, the extent and location of larval migration, and the severity of ensuing inflammation and necrosis. Diagnosis of Baylisascaris encephalitis is based on clinical CNS disease, peripheral and cerebrospinal fluid eosinophilia, deep white matter lesions visible by magnetic resonance imaging, and positive results of serologic tests. Treatment efficacy in clinical cases is poor, but albendazole prevents disease if given promptly after infection. Considering the seriousness of this disease and limitations of diagnosis and treatment, prevention of infection with eggs is of utmost importance.

Journal Article.  4460 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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