Roundworms in Raccoons

The raccoon roundworm is a common parasite found in raccoons and is transmissible to other animals and people. In Pennsylvania, 38% of raccoons are estimated to be infected with roundworm according to the PA Game Commission.

What is it?

The scientific name, Baylisascaris procyonis, is found in the small intestinal tract of raccoons. The worms can measure from 15-20cm in length and 1cm in width. They’re a tan/white color, round, and taper at both edges.

The disease is also known as Larval Migrans (LM) which can result in skin irritation, vision problems, or neurological disease that can be fatal. Millions of eggs can be shed by an infected animal each day.

Who can get it and what are the symptoms?

The animals that can get LM are:

Usually, there are no signs that a raccoon is infected, however, other animals present symptoms. Most commonly, changes in behavior are noticeable due to damage to the brain and spinal cord caused by larvae. These behaviors usually consist of a head tilt and an inability to walk or climb properly. The animal may also lose its fear of humans, circle, roll on the ground, fall over, lay on its side, and paddle its feet.

People can also get LM. In humans, the larvae primarily migrate to the eyes and the brain. The most common symptoms are lesions with skin irritation and eye/brain tissue damage. An infected person may experience nausea, lethargy, incoordination, and loss of eyesight. The disease is more common in younger children who may put soil or animal droppings in their mouths.


Raccoons can be treated with dewormers to kill adult works, however, there are no drugs that can effectively kill the migrating larvae in the body. Laser surgery has successfully killed larvae in the retina, but the damage is irreversible.

Recommendations for Prevention

It’s recommended that people, especially children, wash their hands after working or playing outdoors. Moreover, research shows that it’s unlikely the disease will be eliminated because the eggs are highly resistant to the environment. However, focus on minimizing the transmission to humans and pet animals.

Avoid contact with areas inhabited by raccoons due to potentially infected animal droppings, and leave it to an animal removal professional to handle raccoon removal and clean up! We follow all recommendations by the PA Game Commission when removing and cleaning up raccoon damage.

Give us a call or contact us for raccoon removal and other animals!


COVID-19 Animal Transmission

fruit bat

We have the same questions you do – can animals spread COVID-19 to humans? Here’s what science has told us so far.


Currently, evidence suggests humans can pass the virus to animals during close contact. However, the likelihood of animals passing it to humans is rare.

To clarify, coronavirus is a family of viruses and has multiple strains, including COVID-19. Some strains of coronavirus can only infect animals.  However, COVID-19 was believed to have mutated into a strain that jumped from a bat to a human.

Current Evidence and Published Studies

According to the CDC, cats and dogs have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Earlier in the pandemic, lions at Barcelona Zoo tested positive in addition to snow leopards. A variety of feline species can and has tested positive for COVID-19.

Another study showed that fruit bats, ferrets, and golden Syrian hamsters can be infected with the virus and spread it to each other in a laboratory setting. However, in the same study, mice, pigs, and poultry did not become infected or spread the infection.

Recently, we have learned that animals around the world have been infected with COVID-19. Other companion animals such as ferrets and hamsters have been infected. A more extensive list of infected animals from the CDC can be found here.

CDC Recommendations

The CDC recommends those who test positive for COVID-19 should avoid close contact with pets, livestock, and wildlife.

For house pets, the CDC recommends isolating your pets as you would another human living in your household. It is proven that house pets can spread it to other house pets. Moreover, humans can spread it to animals. If one pet is sick, the CDC also recommends isolating it from other pets in your home.

As more information becomes available, we continue to research and learn as much about the virus as possible. As we work closely with animals, we take all proper precautions outlined by the CDC and PA Game Commission to keep you, your family, and our team safe.

EPM Threat to Horses from Opossums

Opossums and your horse’s health

One disease that horse owners in North America (particularly on the east coast) should be aware of is EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis).

EPM is a neurological disease that can be difficult to diagnose due to varying symptoms. Moreover, it is important that owners are aware of the disease as it can be fatal if it goes untreated.

Furthermore, this particular parasite attacks the brain and spinal cord. Ultimately, it causes devastating and long-lasting damage to the nervous system.

Luckily, Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis is treatable and horses recover well if it is treated promptly. Additionally, most horses show improvement after a few weeks of treatment.

How is EPM Contracted?

The primary cause of EPM is opossum droppings. Furthermore, horses contract the disease from eating contaminated feed or grazing.

What are the symptoms?

EPM presents itself subtly or severely.  It can present symptoms similar to several other neurological diseases in horses. Common symptoms shown are:

  • Changes in gait, lameness
  • Abnormal sweating
  • Problems balancing with lifted hoof
  • Incoordination (worsens going up or down slopes)
  • Muscle atrophy, usually over shoulders
  • Paralysis of muscles of the eyes, face, or mouth, evident by drooping eyes, ears, or lips.
  • Mild depression
  • Trouble swallowing, dropping feed.
  • Leaning on a wall for balance
  • Loss of sensation along the face, neck, or body.
  • A drooping lip or repeated facial twitch
  • Change in vision
  • Dropped feed or trouble swallowing
  • Head tilt
  • Drooping ear
  • Changes in behavior, including throwing the rider

How is EPM prevented?

As there are no preventable vaccines for EPM, the most effective preventative measure is to keep opossums away from horses and their feed. Ultimately, we recommend keeping feed covered when not in use and removing any garbage as soon as possible.

If you have a problem with opossums on your property, particularly if they pose a threat to your horse’s safety, don’t hesitate to call us for professional opossum removal.

The Rabies Vaccine

Receiving the rabies vaccine is an unpleasant experience. Len, our owner, and operator has experienced these vaccines.

Rabies is a complex topic, so we’ll start with the basics. Rabies is a disease caused by a virus. Furthermore, it attacks the brain and the central nervous system. We’ll explain how the disease is transmitted, what to do if you’re exposed, the symptoms of rabies, and the rabies vaccine.

How is it Transmitted?

The saliva of an infected animal or human touches a break in the skin and rabies is transmitted. The most common ways are being bitten by an animal or an animal licking a break in the skin. Additionally, if an infected animal licks one’s nose, mouth, or eyes it can be transmitted. Extremely common carriers of rabies include groundhogs, skunks, raccoons, bats, dogs, cats, coyotes, and foxes.

Potential Exposure

If you have been bitten by an animal, immediately clean the wound with soap and water. If possible, try to observe the animal. The observation should take place for ten days to visualize any unusual behavior. If the animal does not show any symptoms of a rabies infection, you may not need the vaccine. On the other hand, it is always better to be safe as rabies is fatal.

Additionally, if the animal has been or can be captured, it can be tested. Contact the PA State Game Commission for help when capturing a potentially rabid animal. The Department of Agriculture provides more information about its animal testing process.

If the animal is not familiar and can’t be observed, contact your local health department or an infectious disease expert. The disease expert can often be reached at your local hospital. The CDC should also be contacted to record any outbreaks.

Symptoms of Rabies

After exposure, rabies has a very long incubation period. This period can range anywhere from two weeks to two months. Once the symptoms start, they are not reversible. Skipping the vaccine isn’t worth the risk of a fatal virus. Ultimately, it’s always fatal and non-reversible.

Early Signs of Rabies:

  • Fatigue
  • Sore Throat
  • Vomiting
  • Headache

More Advanced Signs:

  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty Swallowing

The final symptoms of rabies consist of paralysis, coma, and death.

The Rabies Vaccine

If you think that you may be exposed, consult with your doctor. Only hospitals carry the two-part vaccine, so an ER visit is necessary.

The exposure vaccine is completed in 4 doses:

First, one dose is given right away which is paired with the immune globulin. The globulin kick-starts the immune system and provides protection before the vaccine works.

Next, another dose is given on the third day. It is followed by a dose on the seventh day. Finally, the last dose is given on the fourteenth day.

Comparatively, a preventative vaccine is another option. It’s extremely beneficial for people who work around animals such as a veterinarian or animal control experts.

Vaccine Symptoms

Furthermore, there is a wide list of side effects and complications that can occur with the vaccine. As with any shot, soreness, redness, swelling or itching is very common near the injection site. In addition, a lower percentage of recipients experience headaches, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches, and dizziness.

Keep an eye out for symptoms that indicate an allergic reaction:

  • High Fever
  • Behavior Changes
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the Face and Throat
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Elevated Heart Rate