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Raccoons are susceptible to a large number of different infectious agents including bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Several of these infectious diseases are zoonotic.Raccons are rather aggressive animals that can transfer diseases to people via bites, scratches and even indirect contact. Because it is not uncommon for us to sometimes encounter these furry animals around our homes, especially at night as they scavenge for food, it is important to take care while in their presence and use common precautions when handling materials they've contacted or left behind.

RABIES
  • Rabies is a disease caused by a virus and it is almost always fatal. It is spread through a bite by an infected animal. Although rare, it can be spread through infected saliva getting into an open wound.
  • Rabies can be successfully prevented in people by giving rabies vaccines shortly after an exposure.
  • Raccoons are the most frequently reported animal species with rabies in the Canada.
Raccoon roundworm
  • Many raccoons carry a roundworm called baylisascaris. Infected raccoons pass baylisascaris eggs in the feces. Other animals and people can get infected if they accidentally swallow the eggs in soil or water. Developmentally disabled persons or young children who play outside are at highest risk.
  • After the eggs are swallowed they hatch into larvae that move to different parts of the body and can cause serious illness within a week. Symptoms may include tiredness, lack of coordination, loss of muscle control, blindness, and coma.
  • Baylisascaris infection is rare, but is believed to be underdiagnosed. Anyone suspected of having swallowed raccoon feces should seek health care immediately. Early treatment can prevent infection and serious illness.
Leptospirosis
  • Giardiasis:Leptospirosis is a disease caused by Leptospira bacteria that are carried in the urine of rats, raccoons, and some other animals. People and animals can get infected when water contaminated with urine of infected animals gets on their skin, or in the nose, mouth, throat, or eyes, or is swallowed. Dogs are especially at risk and may die from the disease.
  • Leptospirosis may cause influenza-like symptoms, severe head and muscle aches, high fever, and in some cases serious liver and kidney problems.
Other Diseases
Other bacterial diseases (such as Salmonella or E. Coli), fungus and rare parasites can also be a risk for illness in humans. People who handle, feed and clean up waste should be aware of the potential health hazards and practice aggressive hygiene and sanitation to prevent exposure of skin, eyes, mouth and body to infection. Physicians can assess individuals who may have been exposed and recommend appropriate actions to prevent disease.


Preventing diseases from raccoons
  • Discourage raccoons around your residence:
    • Never feed raccoons
    • Feed pets inside and store pet food inside
    • Keep pets inside at night
    • Prevent raccoons from entering your house through pet doors or other openings
    • Keep garbage cans inside and use locking or secured lids outside
    • Clean barbecue grills after each use
    • Use secure bins for food composting
  • Avoid contact with raccoon feces and safely clean up areas where raccoons defecate (raccoon latrines) on your property.
  • Avoid direct contact with water, soil and vegetation contaminated with raccoon urine.
  • Contact an experienced wildlife control service for help cleaning up latrines and removing problem raccoons.
  • Vaccinate cats, dogs and ferrets to protect them against rabies; consider vaccinating dogs for leptospirosis
Control
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