Can cats cause Baylisascaria Infection in children?

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Our question this week was:

My child was diagnosed with Baylisascaria Infection – could she have gotten it from my cat?

Jamie S. – Seattle – WA

Answer

Hi Jamie– thanks for your email. I'm very sorry to hear about your child.

Baylisascaris infection is caused by a parasite from a raccoon roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis. The problem is most often from a raccoon as they are the natural host for the mature parasite. However, the parasite can infect over 90 species of animals including birds, dogs and cats (rarely cats). It is believed that cats are relatively resistant and is probably an unlikely source of infection.

The most common way this parasite is acquired in children is by fecal-oral contact with the raccoon feces. The most common scenario is probably a kid playing outside and put their hands in their mouths after touching something contaminated. This can happen most commonly in outdoor sandboxes, playgrounds or any other place outdoors where raccoons may defecate.

Best of luck with your child. She will be in our prayers.

Dr. Debra

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