Photo: Handschuh/News

It seems that we can never get over one traumatic event before another rears its ugly head. A rare and deadly disease, known as Raccoon Roundworm, has the New York City Department of Health on high alert. This disease is contracted through contact with raccoon feces. It can cause permanent nerve damage and death. Okay, if I had not once seen two raccoons in the Bronx, where I resided in the late 1980s, I would have said that raccoons in New York City is hogwash. Apparently the diseases has left an infant brain damaged and a teenager blind in one eye. The raccoon may look cute to many, but it’s a dangerous animal in reality, in light of this latest alert.

“Parents should closely supervise small children in areas where raccoons live to prevent possible ingestion of raccoon feces,” said Sally Slavinski, of a Health Department unit that deals with diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans.

In the first case, a healthy infant who traveled to upstate New York last year started having seizures and spinal problems last October. The baby has been brain-damaged and hospitalized ever since. Then, in January, a Brooklyn teen who hasn’t left the city recently, lost sight in the right eye.

Fewer than 30 cases of Raccoon Roundworm have been reported nationwide. It takes two to four weeks for symptoms, which include nausea, loss of coordination and muscle control, and blindness, to develop. Source: NY Daily News

The news of this disease, which strikes mostly kids and especially developmentally disabled children, could cause a mass hysteria throughout the nation, especially for children who play on city playgrounds. It is scary because small children tend to pick up so many things and put it in their mouths or just put their dirty hands in their mouths.