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Baylisascariasis

Other Names: Raccoon Roundworm Infection, Baylisascariasis

Baylisascariasis is a zoonotic infection caused by larvae of raccoon roundworm, Baylisascaris procyonis (found in raccoons and dogs), and sometimes B. columnaris (found in skunks), and B. melis (found in badgers).

In raccoons, adult worms live in the small intestine. When eggs laid by the female worms are passed in feces and reach the ground, under ideal conditions of humidity and temperature it takes a minimum of about 2 weeks for the first-stage larvae to form. Female worms can produce between 115,000 and 179,000 eggs per day per worm; therefore, infected raccoons can shed millions of eggs per day in their feces. Even after the feces has dissolved, the roundworm eggs will remain viable in the environment for several years, even when exposed to freezing temperatures.

Chickens become infected by accidental ingestion of embryonated eggs that are present in the environment, shed from the feces of raccoons, dogs, and other carriers. Once the eggs are eaten, larvae are released, which penetrate the intestinal wall and migrate through the bloodstream to reach other organs and tissues, including the Central nervous system (CNS) and eyes.
Raccoon Roundworm Life Cycle Chickens
They then settle and become encapsulated in granulomas in various organs and tissues, resulting in sudden onset of neurological signs such as head tilt, and paralysis.

Clinical Signs

Head tilt
Paresis
Circling
Ataxia
Seizures
Paralysis
Tremors
Difficulty perching
Blindness

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Fecal test
  • Tissue biopsy

Treatment

NameSummary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
Piperazine100-500 mg/kg administered orally q2wK Marx
Pyrantel Pamoate4.5-25 mg/kg administered orally, q2wK Marx
Moxidectin0.2-0.8 mg/kg administered orally, onceK Marx

Support

Prevention

  • Discouraging raccoons, skunks, or badgers from entering areas where chickens forage.
  • Don't let dogs defecate in areas where chickens roam.

Prognosis

Usually fatal

Scientific References

Blogs

Risk Factors

  • Raccoons, skunks, bears, badgers, or dogs living near the premises of where chickens are kept.

Also Consider