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Costly cleanup of raccoon feces from Largo attic prompts lawsuit

A family of raccoons moved into the attic of Deborah and Richard Blanchard's $700,000 home in Largo last year, and left sometime in October.

Their parting presents?

A lot of parasite-infested poop.

And the cost to clean it up?

Around $44,000, according to the animal damage specialty contractor A-Plus Restorations of Pinellas Park.

That was a price the Blanchards' insurer, United Property and Casualty Insurance Company, was not willing to pay.

The company offered half that.

And now, the owner of A-Plus Restorations, Alex Pemberton, is suing, according to a circuit court filing earlier this year.

Cleaning up raccoon feces, he says, is not as simple as putting a plastic baggy over your hand and holding your nose.

"Seventy percent of raccoons carry raccoon roundworm — which is completely impervious to chemical disinfectant," Pemberton said.

Baylisascaris procyonis, or raccoon roundworm, "is increasingly recognized as a cause of serious or fatal larva migrans disease in humans and animals," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site.

And the process to get rid of the fecal-borne parasite's eggs, Pemberton says, involves either fire (not an option in a home), or an extermination method Pemberton said is a trade secret.

"Regular cleaning may kill a lot of bacteria, but it might not kill baylisascaris procyonis," he said.

Bill Burke, an attorney for United Casualty, said he couldn't discuss the claim because the litigation is pending.

Costly cleanup of raccoon feces from Largo attic prompts lawsuit 03/13/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 12, 2010 6:49pm]
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