Beware the Dangers of the Rabid Raccoon

Protect your family and keep them far away from a rabid raccoon.  There is nothing cute or friendly about the forest creature carrying this infectious and fatal disease.  Watch for these danger signs and learn what to do.

Rabies is concentrated in the saliva of the infected carrier – in this case a raccoon.  If the animal comes in contact with a human, the disease can be spread through a scratch or cut.  The virus can also enter a human through the eyes, mouth and nose.  Basically, humans need to steer clear of the rabid raccoon if at all possible.

How Do You Spot a Rabid Animal?

Raccoons infected with rabies will appear different than their healthy counterparts.  They may be noticeably clumsy, have trouble walking or fall over a lot.  They may also be very thin and have thinning or worn-looking fur.  A less obvious but still dangerous sign of rabies is when a raccoon loses its natural fear of humans or pets.  If a raccoon is aggressive and looks sick or clumsy, it is likely carrying rabies.

Don’t discount an animal if it is not foaming at the mouth.  Rabies can present in a raccoon before it even shows any signs. 

What Should You Do If You Find One?

Contact your local animal control shelter right away.  Alternatively, contact the government’s community health department or your veterinarian.  If a rabid raccoon is confirmed to be in the area, the government will likely conduct a catch and vaccinate program.  

Keep your pets indoors as much as possible and watch your children closely.  Warn older kids and any neighbors about the spotting.

If you, a family member or a pet has been bit or exposed dangerously, contact the hospital right away.  You will have to go through a vaccination treatment, which usually consists of five needles over the course of a month.  This treatment is safe and works well.

Right after contacting the hospital, wash the contact spot with warm water and soap.  If the rabid raccoon has died, be sure to always use gloves while handling it and try not to damage its head (the brains of rabid animals are important to research).

Wash any tools or areas that held the rabid animal with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water.  That will kill the virus and stop further spread.

How to Protect Your Home

There are things you can do before a rabid raccoon is even spotted in the vicinity.  Go over these with your entire family and help to keep everyone safe.

Make a practice of never purposely getting close to raccoons, skunks or bats.  There are all known carriers of rabies and other dangerous diseases. 

Don’t encourage or invite wild animals by leaving out food.  Clean up garbage and contain your compost well.

Install guards on your chimneys to block access into your home.  Inspect your soffit and roof to make sure there are no points of entry.  Also close off any hiding spots under your deck or porch.  Keep your garage door closed as much as possible so that raccoons won’t sneak inside for warmth.

Have your pets vaccinated against rabies.  Even if your animals primarily stay indoors, it’s a good idea to get them vaccinated.  Ask you veterinarian about protecting your livestock, if that applies.

Stop the Spread of Rabies

If you do trap a raccoon, even a healthy looking one, don’t release it in another state.  You may be unwillingly spreading the disease through a silent carrier.  This is especially true if there has been an outbreak in your area.

Watch for these danger signs and protect your family.  Stay far away from any wild animal and contact an authority the minute you spot a rabid raccoon.  Your life may depend on it.