Saturday, March 17, 2007

Just say 'scat' to scat

I'm not sure I'll ever get over the unexpected pleasure of seeing the neighborhood wildlife which includes a coyote, a fox or two, falcons, a pair of hawks, and at least one family of raccoons. I suppose losing the family cat to one of the predators would take some of the fun out of it, but, according to JAMA, here's what one of these critters may bring to the 'hood:

Scientists and public health experts say it's time to remove the welcome mat, because the animals often carry a roundworm parasite that is increasingly recognized as the cause of a rare but deadly form of encephalitis, especially in children.

This warning, from JAMA, points out an unexpected problem with sharing our living space with wild animals.

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Vicki said...

Love your medical newsletter! We do get scat up here in the outskirts
of Evergreen -
skunk, fox, coyote - that we can identify, and of course lots of deer &
elk piles. I used to
just walk past it thinking it will decompose and fertilize the ground.
But now after reading
your article, I will now dispose of it immediately ! ( will wear
disposable gloves, use
plastic bags, all that stuff)

There was recently an episode of "House" (the crabby doctor played by
Emmy winner, Hugh Laurey)
where he successfully diagnosed ringworm larva in the eyes of an
autistic boy. The crazy boy had
inadvertently ingested ringworm eggs that were left by raccoons who
pooped in his little
backyard sandbox. He was such a crazy boy that part of the drama of the
show's plot was that it
seemed plausible that the yuppie parents could have poisoned the kid.
The kid's symptoms were
so unusual that numerous tests for various causes were all negative,
dead ends. But House finally figured
out that it was raccoon poop that made the crazy kid even crazier. I
thought it was a bizarre scenario,
until reading your article.

Femail doc said...

Hi Vicki,

Thanks for the comments. I watch House faithfully, but this episode somehow escaped me. Next time you're in the office, be sure to check out my photo of Hugh Laurie personally autographed to 'Sweet Judy brown-eyes.'