Earlier articles have dealt with raccoon biology and suggestions on how to protect you and your property from nuisance wildlife introduction into your home. Today the subject continues but from another angle. What kind of health effects can occur when raccoons or nuisance wildlife invade your home and take up residence?

Let’s discuss 3 health hazards that can occur to you and your domestic pets in association with a raccoon infestation.

  1. Rabies – Did you know that raccoons can carry rabies along with skunks, bats, and other wildlife?  According to the Centers for Disease Control, the occurrence of rabies in animals is very low in the United States but it is possible and should always be considered. Nearly any animal can contract rabies including cows and horses, but the scary part of our story is that rabies is nearly 100% fatal. By the time symptoms manifest themselves it is generally too late to save the animal or human. There are two types of rabies. One is the furious rabies which includes hyperactivity, hallucinations and fear of water or drafts of air. The other type is the paralytic or “dumb rabies” in which there is paralysis and no hyper activity or fear of water.
  2. Canine Distemper – is a virus affecting respiratory, gastrointestinal, and the nervous system of many animals that can be transferred from wildlife to domestic pets. This disease may not cause illness to humans, but a household pet is at risk.
  3. Raccoon roundworm – Did you know that the raccoon roundworm can infect bird, mammals and humans? The roundworm is a parasite. When the eggs are ingested, they can live in the intestines where they penetrate into the bloodstream and migrate through organs and tissue causing neurological or eye issues. Eggs can be ingested from soil or feces when hands are not washed and/or respirators are not used in areas where raccoon feces are present.

It is important to be aware of wildlife around your home. If an animal is either violent acting or sluggish, care must be taken to protect your family and others. Contacting local agencies about such animals is important. Do not attempt to clean up feces without proper protection for your eyes and respiratory system.  ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS after being in areas that hold feces. Life can be hard enough without adding preventable illness or disease.