A monograph on Baylisascaris larva migrans was recently published through the U.S. Geological Survey. Written by Dr. Kevin Kazacos, professor emeritus of veterinary parasitology and former director of clinical parasitology at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, the publication covers his several decades of research on Baylisascaris procyonis, the causative organism, as well as various aspects of the parasite as a cause of animal and human disease.
According to the monograph overview: “Baylisascaris procyonis, the common raccoon roundworm or ascarid, an intestinal parasite, is the most commonly recognized cause of clinical larva migrans (LM) in animals,” with more than 150 species affected.
The monograph, part of a U.S. Geological Survey series on zoonotic diseases, provides information on the agent, infection in humans and animals, and disease prevention and control. The monograph also conveys how important veterinarians have been in research on the organism.
Dr. Kazacos’ laboratory at Purdue began working with the parasite after the researchers began seeing animal cases. “When we started looking at the parasite, it showed danger to people,” he said. “We went on to establish the parasite as an important animal and human disease agent, helped identify the first human cases, and worked on most of the human cases since then.” Their work culminated in a number of JAVMA reports. Dr. Kazacos’ early studies in nonhuman primates received a lukewarm response from a human journal, which saw the results “as more of a curiosity,” he said. “But JAVMA was integral to getting the word out.” Dr. Albert J. Koltveit, then editor-in-chief, featured their key paper in the Dec. 1, 1981, issue (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1981;179:1089-1094).
Recently, the Purdue team developed a molecular serologic test for Baylisascaris infection and donated the test to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Canada’s National Reference Centre for Parasitology, which both do human testing for the parasite.
PDF copies of the monograph can be downloaded here. Copies are also available from Gail Moede-Rogall at gmrogallusgs [dot] gov (gmrogall[at]usgs[dot]gov) or by contacting her at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, 6006 Schroeder Road, Madison, WI 53711. Dr. Kazacos said individuals are free to distribute the publication to others.
Dr. Kazacos retired in 2014 after devoting most of his career to this work, focusing particularly on protecting children. He is a founding member and past president of the Companion Animal Parasite Council, and a charter diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists (parasitology).