Health officials suspect a King County toddler has contracted a rare disease that’s linked to raccoon roundworms.
The Baylisascaris infection is associated with eating roundworm eggs that have been contaminated with raccoon droppings. People can be infected if they accidentally eat dirt or other materials the droppings have contaminated.
The toddler was hospitalized and is recovering at home, according to Seattle & King County Public Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is testing the toddler's blood and spinal fluid. Results are expected in two weeks.
The infection is so rare that only 29 cases have been reported in the U.S. since 1973, none of which were in Washington state.
It can be potentially fatal if the roundworms enter a person’s eyes, organs, or brain.
The disease does not spread person-to-person.
To prevent infection, wash your hands after being outdoors and avoid areas frequented by raccoons, especially raccoon latrines.
If you discover a raccoon latrine in your yard, cleaning the area promptly may prevent infection. Newly deposited eggs can take between two and four weeks to become infectious.