The swine-flu pandemic scare is fading fast. What other old disease will we be terrified of next? How about the one where raccoon larvae can make you blind?
Raccoon Roundworm, or Baylisascaris infection, has been studied since at least 1951. Right now it's in Brooklyn, where it recently blinded (in one eye) a teenager and caused seizures, spinal problems and brain damage in an infant. Tragic. The New York Daily News ran the story late Sunday; the Associated Press has picked it up.
The disease in contracted through contact with raccoon feces or though contact with something else (soil, water) contaminated with feces. (Here's the CDC rundown.) There are fewer than 30 cases nationwide in the medical literature, according to the New York City Department of Public Health (via AP).
So probably you're fine, as long as you dispose of any raccoon feces using plastic gloves and bags before your children can get near it. And as long as you watch your back for any horrifying killer raccoons emerging from the sewer like hellspawn, as documented in this awesome Daily News picture:
THEY'RE OUT THERE. AND THEY JUST KEEP COMING.