Rabies in Raccoons


Rabies Introduction

Raccoons are said to be rabies vector species in some countries. Although other animals can transmit it, raccoons are at a higher risk. Rabies can be transmitted to people, pets as well as other animals. To prevent the virus from spreading to human and domestic animals, veterinarians should be acquainted with the current geographical distribution of the virus. On the other hand, pets and other domestic animals should always be vaccinated against rabies. It’s also important to know signs as well as symptoms of rabies infected animal and the measure to take when a pet or human has had prior contact with a rabies infected animal.

Signs of Rabid Raccoon

A homeowner should be able to recognize signs as well as symptoms of a rabid raccoon. Some people assume that seeing a raccoon in daytime is a sign that it has rabies. Female raccoons search for food at day -time and hence it’s not a rabies sign. Show no fear to human, nowadays raccoon are also urban animals and are used to people. A raccoon with unusual behavior will not always indicate that the raccoon is rabid, it could be poisoned, shot or even hit. There are several signs that show rabies in raccoon. They include; staggering as if drunk, weepy eyes and frothy mouth. The face seems to be wet and with tangled fur. The raccoon does not react to disruptions such as noise or movement which in normal cases would make a raccoon run and hide. The animal is aggressive and making crazy noises. The throat muscles constrict to cause choking and loss of limbs function as a result of paralysis. Any of the above mentions signs show the possibility of the raccoon is rabid. One should not attempt to catch the animal or chase it away. It is wise to call the animal control unit in your locality immediately, describe the behavior to them and request the raccoon to be taken care off. If by any chance you or your pet was in contact with it, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Geographic Distribution

Before the 1950s in the United States, Raccoon rabies had little prevalence. By 1970s raccoon rabies had started to rise mainly in Florida and Georgia. Later in 1977, it was detected in Virginia as well as in West Virginia. Since then the raccoon rabies has been spreading to Ontario, Canada, Northern Ohio and even to North Carolina. Since then these states have been reporting an increased number of raccoon rabies every year. Although Ohio reported fewer cases and non in 2000. Ohio may have used rabies control programs that are extended to their wildlife which include rabies vaccine baits.

Raccoon Rabies Exposure to Human and Domestic

Animal Veterinarians should discourage residents from owning raccoons and other wildlife. There has been no vaccine proven for raccoon rabies. A raccoon in captivity may have been incubating rabies at the time of capture, and hence it should be quarantined for at least 180 days prior exhibition. When a human is bitten by a raccoon, the animal should be deemed rabid. The raccoon should be captured and tested for rabies. This incidence should be reported to the local health department. A bite or a scratch should be washed with immediate effect after which the person goes for post -exposure prophylaxis. For domestic animals exposed to rabies by either a raccoon or another animal and not availed for testing should be seen as an exposure. If domestic animals that are not vaccinated are exposed, one should consider euthanizing them immediately. And if by any chance the owner is not willing to do so, the animal should be isolated for six months and vaccinated one month before it is released. Domestic animals that are currently vaccinated need to be re -vaccinated in once more and observed 45 days.  If it shows any first sign of illness, it needs to be checked by a veterinarian and then reported to local or state health department. With more development of rabies signs, the animal must be euthanized, and its brain tissues are taken for testing at the state board of health
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