Oral Presentation 64th International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association 2015

Seroprevalence and risk factors for zoonotic transmission of Baylisascaris procyonis (raccoon roundworm) in wildlife rehabilitators from the United States and Canada.  (#38)

Sarah G.H. Sapp 1 2 , Lisa N. Rascoe 3 , Patricia Wilkins 3 , Sukwan Handali 3 , Elizabeth B. Gray 3 , Mark Eberhard 3 , Dana M. Woodhall 3 , Susan P. Mongtomery 3 , Michael J. Yabsley 1 4
  1. Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
  2. Department of Infectious Diseases, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
  3. Parasitic Diseases Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA
  4. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA

Baylisascaris procyonis, the raccoon roundworm, is a zoonotic parasite and a cause of severe neurologic disease in >130 wildlife species. Nearly all diagnosed human baylisascariasis cases have been fatal or resulted in severe, permanent neurologic complications. Most of these infections were in children who likely ingested large numbers of infectious eggs. We hypothesized that healthy adult at-risk individuals may develop asymptomatic or sub-clinical infections resulting from accidental ingestion of low numbers of eggs, and that wildlife rehabilitators may be an at-risk population due to frequent contact with raccoons and/or their feces. We collected serum samples from 273 wildlife rehabilitators from 33 states and 3 Canadian provinces and administered a questionnaire to assess potential risk factors. Samples were tested for B. procyonis-specific antibodies using a recombinant RAG-1 antigen immunoblot. Thus far, 19 participants (7%) were positive for antibodies to B. procyonis, of which 13 (68%) had actively rehabilitated raccoons in the past year. All 19 positive individuals conducted rehabilitation in areas where B. procyonis is present or suspected to be present in raccoons (i.e., 12 U.S. states and one Canadian province), and all reported at least some history of raccoon contact. Use of PPE was variable, but most participants reported frequent use of gloves and hand-washing, and the majority (81%) reported regular anthelminthic treatment of raccoons. In summary, antibodies to B. procyonis were detected in healthy adult wildlife rehabilitators indicating the occurrence of sub-clinical baylisascariasis. Currently, we are administering a questionnaire to wildlife rehabilitators to assess knowledge of B. procyonis and use of PPE to better understand the educational needs of this community.