LET'S TALK ABOUT RABIES

There are certain areas of the country where raccoons are more likely to have rabies than some other animals. This is called being a “vector species” for rabies (sometimes incorrectly referred to as a "carrier"). The most common vector species for rabies worldwide is dogs. In the eastern part of the United States, raccoons are the main vector species.  In other areas, bats, foxes, and skunks are the main vector species.

 

 

The biggest misconception about rabies is the idea that raccoons who appear healthy are capable of spreading rabies. Due to the nature of rabies infection, this is not possible (Center for Disease Control).

The Infectious Path of the Rabies Virus in Raccoons

  1. Raccoon is bitten by a rabid animal.

  2. Rabies virus enters the raccoon through infected saliva.

  3. Rabies virus spreads through the nerves to the spinal cord and brain.

  4. The virus incubates in raccoon’s body for approximately 3-12 weeks. The raccoon has no signs of illness during this time and is not infectious.

  5. When it reaches the brain, the virus multiplies rapidly, passes to the salivary glands, and the raccoon begins to show signs of the disease. At this point the animal can infect other animals via a bite, or exposure of saliva to an open wound or mucus membranes.

  6. The infected animal usually dies within 7 days of becoming sick.

The only way to catch rabies from a raccoon is by getting its saliva into your bloodstream when it is in the active phase of infection, via a bite or (rarely) by contact with an open wound.

As per the Center for Disease Control: "Other contact, such as petting a rabid animal or contact with the blood, urine or feces of a rabid animal, does not constitute an exposure."

Animals that have rabies may drool excessively, and act either very aggressive or very tame. They also may seem disoriented and confused. It's important to know that a raccoon who "looks mean" is not necessarily a sick raccoon. A "mean" expression is not a diagnosis of rabies!

 Raccoons pull their upper lip back like this when they are chewing. It is not a sign of aggression.

This raccoon is just yawning.

The incidence of rabies infections in humans is extremely low.  Thirty four cases were reported in the US between 2003 and 2014, and of those, two were from raccoons. Ten cases were caused by dog bites, and the others were all from bats (Center for Disease Control). Current treatment for rabies infection is a series of four shots in the arm, no more  painful than any other shot (Center for Disease Control).

LET'S TALK ABOUT RABIES

There are certain areas of the country where raccoons are more likely to have rabies than some other animals. This is called being a “vector species” for rabies (sometimes incorrectly referred to as a "carrier"). The most common vector species for rabies worldwide is dogs. In the eastern part of the United States, raccoons are the main vector species.  In other areas, bats, foxes, and skunks are the main vector species.

 

 

The biggest misconception about rabies is the idea that raccoons who appear healthy are capable of spreading rabies. Due to the nature of rabies infection, this is not possible (Center for Disease Control).

The Infectious Path of the Rabies Virus in Raccoons

  1. Raccoon is bitten by a rabid animal.

  2. Rabies virus enters the raccoon through infected saliva.

  3. Rabies virus spreads through the nerves to the spinal cord and brain.

  4. The virus incubates in raccoon’s body for approximately 3-12 weeks. The raccoon has no signs of illness during this time and is not infectious.

  5. When it reaches the brain, the virus multiplies rapidly, passes to the salivary glands, and the raccoon begins to show signs of the disease. At this point the animal can infect other animals via a bite, or exposure of saliva to an open wound or mucus membranes.

  6. The infected animal usually dies within 7 days of becoming sick.

The only way to catch rabies from a raccoon is by getting its saliva into your bloodstream when it is in the active phase of infection, via a bite or (rarely) by contact with an open wound.

As per the Center for Disease Control: "Other contact, such as petting a rabid animal or contact with the blood, urine or feces of a rabid animal, does not constitute an exposure."

Animals that have rabies may drool excessively, and act either very aggressive or very tame. They also may seem disoriented and confused. It's important to know that a raccoon who "looks mean" is not necessarily a sick raccoon. A "mean" expression is not a diagnosis of rabies!

 Raccoons pull their upper lip back like this when they are chewing. It is not a sign of aggression.

This raccoon is just yawning.

LET'S TALK ABOUT RABIES

There are certain areas of the country where raccoons are more likely to have rabies than some other animals. This is called being a “vector species” for rabies (sometimes incorrectly referred to as a "carrier"). The most common vector species for rabies worldwide is dogs. In the eastern part of the United States, raccoons are the main vector species.  In other areas, bats, foxes, and skunks are the main vector species.

 

 

The biggest misconception about rabies is the idea that raccoons who appear healthy are capable of spreading rabies. Due to the nature of rabies infection, this is not possible (Center for Disease Control).

The Infectious Path of the Rabies Virus in Raccoons

  1. Raccoon is bitten by a rabid animal.

  2. Rabies virus enters the raccoon through infected saliva.

  3. Rabies virus spreads through the nerves to the spinal cord and brain.

  4. The virus incubates in raccoon’s body for approximately 3-12 weeks. The raccoon has no signs of illness during this time and is not infectious.

  5. When it reaches the brain, the virus multiplies rapidly, passes to the salivary glands, and the raccoon begins to show signs of the disease. At this point the animal can infect other animals via a bite, or exposure of saliva to an open wound or mucus membranes.

  6. The infected animal usually dies within 7 days of becoming sick.

The only way to catch rabies from a raccoon is by getting its saliva into your bloodstream when it is in the active phase of infection, via a bite or (rarely) by contact with an open wound.

As per the Center for Disease Control: "Other contact, such as petting a rabid animal or contact with the blood, urine or feces of a rabid animal, does not constitute an exposure."

Animals that have rabies may drool excessively, and act either very aggressive or very tame. They also may seem disoriented and confused. It's important to know that a raccoon who "looks mean" is not necessarily a sick raccoon. A "mean" expression is not a diagnosis of rabies!

 Raccoons pull their upper lip back like this when they are chewing. It is not a sign of aggression.

This raccoon is just yawning.

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The incidence of rabies infections in humans is extremely low.  Thirty four cases were reported in the US between 2003 and 2014, and of those, two were from raccoons. Ten cases were caused by dog bites, and the others were all from bats (Center for Disease Control). Current treatment for rabies infection is a series of four shots in the arm, no more  painful than any other shot (Center for Disease Control).

Other Diseases:

Raccoons con also contract certain animal diseases, such as distemper and parvovirus. These diseases are not transmissible to humans but you should always be sure that your pets are fully vaccinated.

They also carry a parasite in their feces (commonly called raccoon roundworm) that, if ingested, is deadly to humans. Ingestion of infected feces is the only way to contract this infection. Wear gloves when handling raccoon waste, and remember that feces is not food. Do not eat feces.

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