In December 2014 the Animal Ambulance in the Dutch town of Doetinchem found a second dead raccoon and submitted it to the Dutch Wildlife Health Centre (DWHC) for post-mortem investigation. This animal was a male, in a good nutritional state with, as found earlier this year in a female raccoon submitted from the same area, an intestinal roundworm infection.
The intestinal worms were identified as Baylisascaris procyonis (raccoon roundworm). The prevalence of this parasite in the Netherlands is not known. Occasionally B. procyonis can infect people (i.e. zoonotic potential) causing serious neurological symptoms . More information about this worm can be found on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The origin of this raccoon is unknown; as raccoons are not found in the wild in the Netherlands it is possible that it escaped from captivity or that people released it into the wild. However, there is a chance that it had strayed from a population of wild raccoons in the neighbouring German state of North Rhine-Westphalia where in 2013/2014 8000 of these animals were shot .
Should you find a dead raccoon, never touch it without wearing gloves. In order to help the DWHC to monitor the occurrence and health status of ‘wild’ raccoons in Netherlands please report your finding via the submission form on our website.
Raccoon owners should regularly worm their animals and ask their vet to chip them so that escaped animals can be identified.
More information (in Dutch) about the treatment and prevention of parasites in non-native species can be found in this article in the Tijdschrift voor Diergeneeskunde (januari 2014).
1 Maas, M. et al. Baylisascaris spp. risk analysis, RIVM Letter report 125/13Z&O/2013