Dangerous parasite found in pet kinkajous

March 17, 2011 at 9:50 PM
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ATLANTA, March 17 (UPI) -- The kinkajou, a mammal native to the South America sometimes kept as a pet, has been found to harbor a parasite that can be fatal, U.S. officials warn.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released Thursday, says three states found the parasite roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis, better known as raccoon roundworms in pet kinkajous, which can cause serious illness or death in humans.

"If the animal is infected with the roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis, the infection can be spread from the animal to humans via feces contaminated with the eggs of the worm," the report says. "Pet owners, exotic pet breeders, veterinarians and healthcare providers should be made aware of this risk, especially if the kinkajou will be kept near children. Measures needed to prevent infection include practicing good hygiene such as regular hand washing, removing animal waste promptly, and ensuring that all pets, including kinkajous, are given regular veterinary care and treatment."

All animals kept as pets -- particularly exotics -- need regular veterinary care to keep them healthy and protect the health of their owners, CDC health officials recommend.

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