SEATTLE - So you think your raccoon problem is over when you get them to leave your attic, crawl space or back yard?
Health officials say raccoons establish common places to leave their droppings, and these raccoon latrines can be laced with a nasty parasite.
According to Public Health Seattle-King County, a raccoon latrine in King County is very likely to contain roundworm eggs that can be hazardous to human health.
Urban wildlife trapper John Consolini says he will have to conduct a fairly elaborate checkup of the raccoon latrine left by a group of the animals in a Seattle backyard. He captured seven raccoons in the yard in the last week and expects to catch more.
Consolini pointed out the latrine that follows the fence line in the backyard.
Consolini says King County and other health officials say the most surefire way to get rid of roundworm eggs in soil is to use fire.
So, after stripping away a few inches of topsoil, Consolini will fire up a propane torch and scorch the remaining soil to destroy potentially millions of roundworm eggs.
Pets and other animals can ingest the tiny eggs and develop the same roundworm problem that plagues large numbers of raccoons in King County.
Roundworms invade the intestines before moving through the system and can eventually attack the nervous system leading to blindness and death.
It is even possible for the people to accidentally ingest the eggs.
King County health experts say only 25 cases of serious roundworm disease have been reported in the U.S. since 2003, but because the disease can be so severe, special precautions should be taken when cleaning up raccoon droppings.
The best way to avoid the roundworm problem is to avoid a raccoon problem. Experts suggest you pick up after fruit dropped from trees and any other food source that may attract raccoons.