ROSEVILLE (CBS13) — A Roseville boy is in the fight of his life, all because of a raccoon.

The 3-year-old contracted the potentially deadly disease raccoon roundworm just by playing in the dirt. Doctors say the boy will be affected by it for the rest of his life.

The disease is spread through raccoon droppings that can contaminate the nearby environment. With the drought driving animals close to homes, the risk could be increasing.

Jaxon Crawford has spent the last six weeks recovering in a hospital bed from an unusual infection that almost killed him.

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He was first admitted to the UC Davis Children’s Hospital in August unresponsive and unable to speak with severe swelling in his brain.

“If you saw him last month when he was in the ICU basically on life support—I mean we are really happy he’s alive,” said Dr. Dean Blumberg.

He diagnosed the raccoon roundworm, a deadly disease that attacks the brain and is spread by raccoon droppings. Most people won’t be infected, but for a small percentage, it can be fatal.

“You don’t have to actually pick up a raccoon stool, because the stool could contaminate the dirt, and if you get your hands dirty and then maybe you put your hands in your mouth, you could end up ingesting this parasite,” he said.

Jaxon’s mother Devon Crawford noticed differences in her child.

“He started to act differently, lethargic,” she said. “This kid is never tired.”

Children under 4 are the most susceptible, because of their tendencies to put things in their mouths.

“He could have came in contact with it with dirt, a door handle, the park, it could have came from anywhere,” she said.

It took more than one visit to more than one hospital before she found a doctor who could diagnose what was happening to her son.

“It was very scary to know something like this is out there and no one’s ever heard of it,” she said.

Blumberg says there have only been 25 reported cases nationwide and that Jaxon’s case was the first one he’d seen in his career.

Jaxson does six hours of physical and speech therapy a day to learn how to talk again and regain movement on the right side of his body. He’s very lucky, but will likely have permanent damage from the disease.