Since issuing an alert this week, Durham County's Public Health Department has received about a dozen calls from parents whose children may have been exposed to the raccoon roundworm infection, said Brian Letourneau, the county public health director. He encourages parents whose children spent time at the Ann T. Roberts Day Care Home, 5024 Stephens Lane, to contact his office at 560-7635 or 560-7102.

The infection develops in the raccoon intestine and is usually passed to humans through the accidental ingestion of raccoon feces. Symptoms can include nausea, fatigue, loss of muscle control, blindness and a loss of coordination. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than 25 cases had been diagnosed in the United States as of 2003, but five of those people died, and scientists think more cases are misdiagnosed.