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How Do Raccoons Get Rabies & Are All Raccoons Rabid?

Raccoons are fascinating creatures that have long been fixtures of our natural landscapes. However, they are also known carriers of rabies, a potentially deadly virus that can be transmitted to other animals or even humans through bites or scratches. 

As such, it is important to understand the prevalence of rabies in raccoons and what can be done to prevent its spread. In this article, we will discuss the frequency of rabies in raccoons, how they contract and spread the disease, and what measures can be taken to prevent it.

We will also explore the risk of rabies transmission to humans and provide practical tips for living with raccoons while minimizing the spread of the disease.

How Do Raccoons Get Rabies?

Raccoons can get rabies through a bite from another infected animal, typically from other raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. The rabies virus is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals and can enter the body through a bite or scratch.

Raccoons can also contract rabies by ingesting the virus from the saliva of an infected animal or by coming into contact with the virus through an open wound or mucous membrane.

Are Raccoons Born With Rabies?

No, raccoons are not born with rabies since it is not an inherited condition that is present at birth. However, there’s a higher chance of the kits contracting the disease from their mother.

If a mother raccoon with rabies gives birth to baby raccoons, the virus can be transmitted to the babies due to various circumstances.

Firstly, the mother can transmit the virus through her milk, infecting the babies as they nurse. Additionally, the mother may groom her cubs with her saliva, which can also spread the virus.

Finally, if the kits come into contact with the mother’s saliva, such as through sharing food or water, they can also become infected.

Raccoon in vegetation

Do All Raccoons Get Rabies – How Common Is Rabies In Raccoons?

Not all raccoons get rabies, but they are considered high-risk species for carrying the virus. In the United States, raccoons, bats, and skunks are among the most commonly reported animals with rabies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), raccoons account for approximately 30% of all reported rabies cases in animals in the United States.

It is important to note that not all raccoons are infected with rabies, and the prevalence of the virus in raccoon populations can vary depending on location and other factors.

However, taking precautions when encountering raccoons or wild animals is still important, as they can transmit the virus through bites or scratches.

What Percentage Of Raccoons Have Rabies?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 35% of raccoons tested for rabies are infected. However, this percentage varies depending on the region and local population density of raccoons.

How Long Can A Raccoon Live With Rabies?

A raccoon infected with rabies typically does not live for very long after symptoms appear, and the disease is almost always fatal without prompt medical intervention.

Once symptoms of the disease appear, survival is rare, and death usually occurs within one to three days.

The incubation period for rabies in raccoons can range from several weeks to several months (typically 2–3 months), and infected raccoons can transmit the virus to other animals, including humans.

Do Raccoons Die From Rabies?

Yes, raccoons can die from rabies, just like any other mammal that can contract the disease. Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system of mammals and is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.

Aggressive raccoon

How To Tell If A Raccoon Has Rabies? What Are The Symptoms?

It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of rabies in raccoons so you can take appropriate action to protect yourself and others.

Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Unusual behavior: Raccoons are usually nocturnal and shy animals, but those with rabies may appear during the daytime, seem disoriented or confused, and may exhibit aggressive behavior.
  • Abnormal vocalizations: Raccoons with rabies may make strange noises such as growling, screeching, or whining.
  • Loss of coordination: They may also stumble, stagger or have difficulty walking.
  • Foaming at the mouth: Rabid raccoons may drool or have froth or foam around their mouth.
  • Disorientation: Infected raccoons may appear confused, wander or appear disoriented.

Therefore, if you observe a raccoon displaying any of these symptoms, it’s important to stay away from it and contact your local animal control or wildlife conservation authorities for assistance.

Never attempt to approach or handle a potentially rabid animal, as they can be dangerous and may transmit the virus through bites or scratches.

Can Raccoons Carry Rabies Without Symptoms?

Yes, raccoons can carry and transmit rabies without showing any symptoms. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most wild animals infected with rabies do not appear sick, and it is impossible to determine if an animal has rabies just by looking at it.

It is essential to note that a raccoon can survive for months or even years with rabies without showing any symptoms, depending on the strain of the rabies virus, the age and health of the raccoon, and the availability of treatment.

Raccoon close-up

Can A Raccoon Give You Rabies?

Yes, raccoons can carry and transmit the rabies virus to humans. It is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, but it can also be spread if an infected raccoon’s saliva comes into contact with an open wound, mucous membranes, or scratches on the skin.

Therefore, if you are bitten or scratched by a raccoon or any other potentially rabid animal, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Prompt treatment with a series of rabies vaccines can prevent the development of the disease.

Final Thoughts

It is important to keep a safe distance from raccoons and other wildlife, avoid feeding them, and vaccinate your pets against the disease to prevent the spread of rabies from raccoons to humans.

Additionally, keep any outdoor areas clean and free of food scraps, which can attract raccoons and other wildlife.

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