DISEASES ASSOCIATED WITH RACCOONS

Nuisance Wildlife Marshals
7405 Aldot Ln, Orlando, FL 32810
(407) 986-0795

Just before we get deep into our today’s topic, let us understand what a raccoon is.

A raccoon, scientifically known as Procyon lotor, is a native mammal which has a heavily furred body, with a pointed face, a bushy tail, and which measures approximately 90 centimeters upon maturity. What makes raccoons unique creatures is their ability to live in different areas- trees, caves, urban centers, and homes!

Yes, they are highly aggressive when in search of food. This more often drives them to people’s homes where they may prefer to live for some time when not chased away.

Now you know what raccoons are. That aside, let us now focus on our today’s topic- Raccoons’ diseases. Raccoons, just like other living creatures, are subject to certain diseases; some which can be passed to humans (zoonotic diseases) and pets, others which cannot. To get a better understanding of these diseases, let us dig in!

RACCOON ROUNDWORM

Scientifically known as Baylisascaris procyonis, it is a large roundworm that is usually found in the small intestines of raccoons. These roundworms can be transmitted to humans and other creatures such as rabbits, chipmunks, birds, mice, and squirrels. Wondering how? Well, it’s pretty simple, raccoon feces contain millions of roundworm eggs which can survive in the environment for years. Once the eggs are accidentally swallowed by humans or other creatures, they hatch into larvae which attacks the intestines. From this point, they can migrate to different body organs such as the brain, eye, heart, liver and other organs. This may result in different illnesses depending on the invaded body organ(s). Though symptoms may differ depending on the attacked organ(s), some of the common symptoms include coma, lack of coordination, tiredness, and blindness.

Therefore, whenever you doubt to have consumed raccoon eggs, make sure you seek medical attention promptly before things worsen.

CANINE DISTEMPER

This disease is caused by a virus. It is a common infection in raccoons and other animals belonging to the families Procyonidae, Canidae, and Mustelidae. Perfect examples of these animals are dogs, skunks, mink, otters, weasels, and coyotes. In raccoons, this illness starts as a respiratory disease which is accompanied by symptoms such as watery eyes and runny nose. As time goes by, other symptoms such as pneumonia develop. The disease is airborne although it can also be transmitted through direct contact with body fluids such as saliva and urine.

Fortunately, unlike raccoon roundworms, this infection cannot be transmitted to human beings. However, we still have the responsibility of keeping our dogs safe from contracting the infection. This is through vaccination and keeping them away from raccoons.

PARVOVIRAL ENTERITIS

If you asked some people whether they have heard of this name, most of them will respond negatively. However, if you ask the same people whether they are familiar with raccoon parvovirus, a number will respond positively. However, all these names refer to the same disease.

Just like the canine distemper, this disease is caused by a virus. The name ‘parvovirus’ comes from the Latin word ‘parvus’ which means small. Therefore, the virus causing this disease is smaller than most viruses. some of the common signs of infection involve lack of fear of humans, lethargy (lack of energy), bloody diarrhea, dehydration, hypoglycemia, rapid weight loss, and depression. After exposure, these symptoms develop in 4-5 days. Even though young raccoons have higher mortality rate than adult raccoons, it remains one of the deadliest diseases associated with raccoons.

RABIES

Most of us have heard rabies getting associated with dogs. However, this disease affects different species such as the raccoons. Unlike other viral diseases in raccoons, rabies can easily be passed to humans and pets. Wondering how? This happens through a bite or a scratch. Therefore, it is important for you and your pets to stay away from infected raccoons. But wait, how do you know that a raccoon is infected with rabies? You need to look out for these symptoms; lack of fear of humans, froth formation at the mouth area, attack of inanimate objects, and displaying a violent behavior.

When bitten or scratched by a raccoon, it’s important to seek prompt medical attention. Symptoms may develop after 2-4 weeks. For pets, you can administer a rabies vaccination shortly after getting exposed. You may also contact your veterinarian or our Florida raccoon control experts for further medical advice.

LEPTOSPIROSIS

This is a bacterial disease that is caused by different species of Leptospira. It is a very common disease in raccoons which can be transmitted through urine. The urine of an infected raccoon contains the disease-causing microorganism which can be contracted by humans and pets by taking contaminated food or water. The disease can also be transmitted when contaminated water is exposed to the skin. Although it can be transmitted to humans and pets, dogs are at a higher risk since they like licking water from the surface. When infected, some people may not exhibit symptoms. However, to some, the symptoms include jaundice, diarrhea, aching muscles, and high fever.

GIARDIASIS

This disease is neither bacterial nor viral; it is caused by a parasite scientifically referred to as Giardia lamblia. Though it may affect different animals, we are majorly concerned with raccoons since they are our major focus. The parasite affects the intestines of raccoons and therefore are present in the feces. Humans contract the disease after ingesting the feces or taking food that is contaminated with these parasites. Persons suffering from this disease experience nausea, dehydration, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

VERDICT

Though raccoons may look cute, they are associated with several diseases, some not discussed. Majority of these diseases can be transmitted to humans and pets. Therefore, it is very important to keep these creatures away from your home. By doing so, you will reduce the probability of contracting these diseases. If you have any questions it’s best to call a wildlife removal expert.