Does Animal Wildlife cause Health Concerns?
While many people enjoy observing urban and rural wild life, excercise extreme caution should be taken to avoid any and all physical contact with the animals, their feces and nesting areas. Even animals you wouldn't normally associate as wildlife, such as stray cats, carry significant health risks and should not be handled without proper protection.
What is histoplasmosis?
Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection that affects the lungs and may occasionally invade other parts of the body. It is an uncommon disease. In 1999, there were 15 cases reported among New York City residents (rate of 0.2 cases per 100,000 persons).
Who can get histoplasmosis?
Anyone can get histoplasmosis. It is recognized more often in immuno compromised individuals, such as AIDS patients. Birds, bats, cats, rats, skunks, opossum, foxes, and other animals can get histoplasmosis and may have a role in spreading the disease.
How is histoplasmosis spread?
The disease is acquired by inhaling the spore stage of the fungus. Outbreaks may occur in groups with common exposures to bird or bat droppings or recently disturbed, contaminated soil found in bird coops, caves, etc. Person-to-person spread of histoplasmosis is highly unlikely.
What are the symptoms of histoplasmosis?
Symptoms vary from mild to severe, ranging from a flu-like illness to serious lung infections. In immuno compromised patients, the disease may spread to the bone marrow, lungs, liver, and lymph nodes.
How soon after infection do symptoms appear?
Symptoms may appear within 5 to 18 days (usually 10 days) after exposure. However, most people do not experience any symptoms.
Does past infection with the fungus make a person immune?
Infection usually results in increased protection against repeat infection, although the immunity is not complete.
How is histoplasmosis diagnosed?
Histoplasmosis is diagnosed by isolating the fungus from body fluids or tissues, visualizing the fungus under the microscope, or by an antibody test.
What is the treatment for histoplasmosis?
Specific treatments, such as amphotericin B, are available for patients with severe illness.
How can histoplasmosis be prevented?
Minimize exposure to dust in contaminated and enclosed environments, such as bird roosting areas and their surrounding soil. Use a protective mask and spray the area with water to minimize exposure to dust.
Raccoon Roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis)
Raccoon Roundworm, Baylisascaris procyonis, is a parasite carried by Racoons but does not cause symptoms in the raccoon host. Raccoon roundworm can cause severe or fatal encephalitis in humans and other animals. The larvae of B. procyonis can invade the human brain and eyes, causing "neural larva migrans" and "ocular larva migrans". To prevent infection of Raccoon Roundworm, it is important to understand it's life cycle in the raccoon. Initially, raccoons become infected with Raccoon Roundworm by accidentally eating eggs from the soil, or by ingesting intermediate hosts (rodents, rabbits, birds) that are already infected with larvae. Adult worms then develop in the intestinal tract of the raccoon and produce millions of eggs every day. These eggs are shed when the raccoon poops. Once outside the body, the eggs become infective in after 2 to 4 weeks, depending on environmental conditions such as moisture and temperature. Humans who accidentally ingest soil or who touch other materials contaminated with raccoon feces are then at risk to develop contact Raccoon Roundworm. Learn more about Raccoon Roundworm.
In Southern Canada and throughout most of the U.S. Rabies is a serious viral disease that results in death if not treated immediately after infection. Infected animals become agitated and aggressive, or fearless and lethargic; animals which are nomrally nocturnal may start to roam about fearlessly in daytime. Humans who have contracted rabies may first develop symptoms of pain, tingling, or itching shooting from the bite site (or site of virus entry) and gradually will become extremely ill, developing a variety of symptoms, including high fever, confusion, agitation, and eventually seizures and coma. Once the symptoms appear in humans, there is NO cure or treatment and death occurs in almost 100% of the cases. Learn more about Rabies.
A single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii causes a disease known as toxoplasmosis. Although cats (both domestic and wild) are the only species that can shed toxoplasma eggs, many other species, including humans and raccoons, can become infected. Of the more than 60 million people in North America who may be infected with the Toxoplasma parasite, very few have symptoms because a healthy person's immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness. However, for pregnant women, their unborn child, and individuals who have compromised immune systems, a Toxoplasma infection may result in severe damage to the brain, eyes, or other organs.
Page summary: Health risks and hazards caused by animals such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, and many pest birds.