Baylisascaris procyonis is a large ascarid nematode found in the small intestine of raccoons (Procyon lotor). Infection with larvae of B. procyonis can produce visceral, ocular, and neural larval migrans in humans. Infected raccoons can shed millions of eggs a day in their feces. However, it is unknown whether eggs are consistently shed or whether eggs occur at irregular intervals by the population of female nematodes within a host. We trapped, infected, and collected daily fecal samples from 11 raccoons maintained in captivity. Eggs from B. procyonis were obtained from anterior, central, and posterior sections of raccoon feces, isolated by flotation, and quantified under 100× magnification. Naturally infected raccoons were collected and used as a comparison with the experimentally infected group. All raccoons in the experimental group (n=11) became infected with B. procyonis after consuming one infected mouse. Additionally, differential egg deposition rates were observed among individual raccoons from the experimental and naturally infected groups. Mean number of eggs per gram of feces (means±SE) was 16,563±4,321, which was less than previously reported for the species. However, no differences (F2,30=0.84, P=0.45) were noted in mean number of eggs per gram of feces among fecal sections. Wildlife biologists, veterinarians, health officials, and researchers of B. procyonis should collect daily fecal samples for a minimum of 3 days before identifying a raccoon as negative for B. procyonis infection. However, it does not matter where within the fecal matter the sample is obtained.
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Vol. 48 • No. 1