Monday, May 4, 2009

More Reasons to Stay Away from Raccoons (and feces)

Following last Thursday's sighting of a raccoon near P.S. 24, this Daily News article seems timely. It's also a little alarmist, so I checked out what the CDC had to say here. Even though contracting the parasite is devastating, it doesn't seem to be very common (although the CDC site says that many infections are likely misdiagnosed). Since, according to the article, fewer than 30 cases are reported in the entire United States of America, it hardly seems like a widespread concern; however, two cases turned up in Brooklyn (only one was apparently contracted in Brooklyn). According to the CDC site linked above, here's what they look like: "Feces usually are dark and tubular, have a pungent odor (usually worse than dog or cat feces), and often contain undigested seeds or other food items." Mmmmm. Pungent.

Advice to avoid contraction of Raccoon Roundworm includes avoiding ingestion of raccoon feces. Now, some of you may say, "Well done. Simple enough." But think of all the times you touch your shoes, put down a bag on the sidewalk or in the park, close a stroller and touch the wheels, and so on. Believe me, fecal matter other than your own is a part of your life! So, just as the best deterrent to (insert appropriate name here) flu is to wash your hands, the same goes here. And wash your hands before rubbing your eye, wiping your kid's nose, or eating a red bean bun from Blue Sky bakery.* Real soap is the best as well. Is singing Happy Birthday all the way through the amount of time you're supposed to wash hands? Or is that for brushing teeth?

*I know it's unrealistic to avoid doing most of what we do after washing hands, and many of us pretend that those wipes from CostCo will kill germs. But washing hands is good practice anyway, so we may as well do it as often as possible.

Basically, it's likely not something to worry about; it's something to be aware of. Watch yourself, watch your kids, and watch out for pungent feces of all kinds.

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