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You probably understand that rabies is a dangerous virus that affects countless wild animals in the Unites States, but do you know which symptoms to look out for — and the exact animals that can carry it? When it comes to rabid raccoons in particular, you need to have more than just a basic understanding, because the signs and symptoms of rabies in these animals aren’t always easy to detect. Here’s a quick and comprehensive guide to help you learn the critical facts about rabies in raccoons.

Rabies and How Raccoons Transmit It

Rabies is a highly contagious viral disease — and it’s incredibly common in raccoons. In an infected animal or human, the rabies virus targets the central nervous system and can be fatal. Fortunately, rabies in pets is easily preventable through regular vaccinations.

The rabies virus is most often transmitted when infected saliva from an animal carrying rabies is passed to an uninfected animal — usually through a bite. Because rabies is highly prevalent among wild raccoons, a bite from one of these animals is a serious cause for concern. That’s why it’s critical to avoid contact with wild raccoons and keep a safe distance from any that stumble onto your property.

Spotting Rabies in Wild Raccoons

While any mammal can carry and transmit the rabies virus, raccoons — in addition to foxes, skunks, coyotes, and bats — are known to be primary carriers in the United States. In fact, raccoons were the second-most reported rabid wildlife species in the country in 2017. In addition, these animals are considered a rabies vector species (RVS) and can sometimes carry the virus without ever even showing symptoms.

Considering how common raccoons are in some areas — particularly Central Florida — it’s important to fully understand the danger they pose to you, your family, and your pets. Raccoons are known to carry a variety of infectious diseases, the most common one being rabies, which can be life threatening in extreme cases.

Even if you understand how serious and dangerous the disease can be, you still might not know how to identify the difference between normal raccoon behavior and clear signs of rabies. For example, it isn’t incredibly common to see raccoons wandering in the daytime — but it isn’t a typical sign of rabies either. The following behaviors in raccoons, however, are likely signs of rabies:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Noticeable drooling
  • Leg paralysis
  • Loud, excessive barking

Despite what you may think about these wild animals, raccoons are unlikely to attack humans unprovoked. Still, it’s always best to keep your distance — because their behavior becomes less predictable with the onset of rabies. The most common way to contract rabies from a raccoon is from a bite. However, there are rare chances of rabies transmission through contact with saliva or fecal matter, which is why wildlife professionals should be the only ones to approach wild raccoons.

Healthy vs. Problematic Raccoon Behavior

At Critter Control® of Orlando, we strongly discourage DIY raccoon removal — but we do encourage you to educate yourself on these animals. It’s important to know the signs of a rabid raccoon to help keep your family safe. Here are some ways to distinguish a healthy raccoon from a rabid one.

  • A raccoon that has rabies often has difficulty walking, whereas a healthy raccoon is normally nimble, quick, and constantly on the move.
  • A rabies-infected raccoon may appear to be confused as to where it is or move very slowly. Healthy raccoons, however, are always alert and highly aware of their surroundings.
  • A raccoon sick with rabies could start foaming at the mouth. This type of behavior is almost never seen from an uninfected raccoon.

Even if they look perfectly healthy, you should always keep your distance from wild animals. While the rabies disease is preventable through vaccination and rarely found in humans, the seriousness of contracting it means you should take every precaution to keep your family and pets safe.

Symptoms of Rabies in Humans

Raccoons are becoming increasingly common throughout residences in the Orlando area and love to build their nests near the readily available food sources you might often leave outside. Things like pet food, bird feeders, and unsecured garbage cans are all prime targets for raccoon activity — which can leave your property vulnerable to an infestation.

A raccoon bie puts you at risk of contracting rabies, according to the CDC. That’s why you must thoroughly wash any bite from a racoon and seek medical attention immediately after coming in direct contact with one of these wild animals. If you catch rabies from a raccoon and postpone treatment, you’ll likely experience initial symptoms similar to the flu — which you should never ignore. Initial symptoms of rabies in humans that you should look for include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you notice any of these warning signs, ask a medical professional to evaluate the cause of your issues. Allowing rabies symptoms to continue without clinical help can cause them to progress into more noticeable issues, such as:

  • Hallucinations
  • Muscle spasms
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

Fortunately, there are strong treatment options for those who are bitten by rabies-infected raccoons, but they are most effective when used early on. If you’d like to learn more about the symptoms of raccoons and how to spot them from a distance, contact your local wildlife provider.

Rabid Raccoon Removal in Orlando

Now that you understand the real risks of rabid raccoons, you need to know how to keep your family and your home safe. Whether you spot raccoons on your property or want to keep them from ever invading your space, the wildlife professionals at Critter Control® of Orlando have the certifications, training, and experience to help.

Our expert pest technicians can assess the severity of your raccoon problem, remove the pests, and design a safe plan to keep them from returning. Or, we can inspect your property and come up with a proactive prevention plan that secures your home immediately. Let the trained animal removal specialists at Critter Control® of Orlando keep you and your family safe from the dangers of a raccoon infestation and contact us today at (407) 250-7873 to schedule your free inspection.

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