Raccoons may look cute and non-threatening; however, they are aggressive animals that can transfer different types of diseases through their bites, scratch, or through indirect contact. As this wildlife becomes more adept at living in suburbs, the risks of contracting the diseases they carry has significantly increased. The infectious diseases carried by raccoons can affect pets as well as humans. If you have young children at home, they are also at a high risk because they usually play outdoors and on the ground where they can be in direct contact with raccoon urine and feces.
Diseases Spread By Raccoons
Raccoon Roundworm: This wildlife can excrete roundworm eggs through their droppings. These eggs are very light and they can become airborne. With that said, humans can easily inhale these eggs and be infected. Raccoon roundworm is very dangerous and can be fatal if it is left untreated. They can affect the central nervous system, and can eventually impair important organs, including the brain. Severe consequences of roundworm infestation can result to blindness or coma. They symptoms of this condition include:
- Loss of muscle control
- Lack of coordination
- Loss of vision
Leptospirosis: This is a bacterial infection that these creatures can spread through their urine and droppings. This infection can be contracted by humans and animals. If you have an open cut or wound and you have come in direct contact with raccoon urine and other secretions, you can contract this disease. The symptoms of Leptospirosis include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe head and muscle aches
- High fever
- Kidney and liver failure
Salmonella: Raccoon feces may contain salmonella bacteria. Humans can contract this infection through incidental ingestion by unintentionally transferring the microorganisms from the hands to the mouth. These bacteria can stay dormant in a dry environment for a long time, and can become active through favorable conditions. With that said, even if you have driven raccoons out of your home, there is still a potential risk of contracting this disease. Salmonella poisoning can lead to these health problems:
- High fever
- Severe diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
Rabies: This is a viral disease which is carried by various types of species, including raccoons. It is vital to stay alert and vigilant since getting bitten or scratched by an infected raccoon can be fatal. Rabies is life-threatening if the bite goes untreated. With that said, it is best to avoid handling raccoons, especially those animals that look sick. A rabid raccoon can be identified by its behavior.
- Stumble as if they are drunk
- Froth forming at the mouth
- Exhibit a violent behavior
- Do not exhibit normal fear of humans
- Attack inanimate objects or pets
You have to understand that this disease can be contracted through the rabid raccoon’s saliva. If you, a family member, or your pet is bitten or scratched by a raccoon, immediately seek treatment. There is a 2-4 week incubation period before the symptoms start to manifest.
These are just a few of the most common infectious diseases spread by raccoons. The best way to avoid these diseases is to prevent these critters from getting into your property. Do not touch raccoon feces and avoid handling or cleaning raccoon droppings without any protection. In addition, do not approach or attempt to handle a raccoon, especially if it looks sick. It is best to seek professional help to properly take care of the problem and prevent them from coming back.
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About the Author: Kris Lim, a writer for health and wellness blogs. She advises her readers to seek professional Tolleson pest control services to avoid contracting diseases spread by pests.