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Protect Your Home from Disease-Carrying Raccoons

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If you’re living in an area where raccoons roam, there’s more at stake than just tipped over trash cans and pet food theft. These masked bandits can pose serious health risks to you and your pets. This guide is designed to educate homeowners on the potential health hazards associated with raccoons and provides clear steps to safeguard your living environment from these disease carriers.

Identifying Health Risks of Raccoons

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Understanding the specific health risks is vital for taking effective preventive measures. Here are the diseases most commonly associated with raccoons:

Rabies

Raccoons are frequent carriers of the rabies virus, which can be transmitted through their bites. The virus affects the central nervous system, leading to symptoms such as fever, headaches, excess salivation, hydrophobia (fear of water), paralysis, confusion, and aggression. Since rabies is fatal but preventable, it’s essential to vaccinate pets and seek medical attention immediately if you’re bitten by a raccoon.

Baylisascaris Procyonis (Raccoon Roundworm)

This parasite can harm both humans and pets. Once ingested, typically through contaminated soil or water sources, it migrates through the body causing damage to the brain, eyes, limbs, and inner organs. Infestations can be fatal or lead to irreversible damage.

Leptospirosis

This bacterial infection is carried in raccoons’ urine and can contaminate water sources or soil. Humans can contract leptospirosis through an open wound, during consumption, or through mucous membranes when coming into contact with infected materials. Symptoms range from mild headache and muscle aches to severe bleeding in the lungs and meningitis.

Giardia

Another gastrointestinal foe spread through raccoon fecal matter, Giardia is a protozoan parasite causing giardiasis in humans and animals. People can become infected through contaminated food, water, or direct contact with raccoon waste, leading to diarrhea, greasy stools, and subsequent weight loss.

Other Diseases

Although the infections mentioned above are prevalent, raccoons harbor numerous other diseases, fungi, and parasites that present a danger. If you have encountered raccoons or their waste, it is advisable to consult a physician promptly.

Preventive Measures

Now that you’re aware of the risks, it’s time to take preventive actions.

Secure Trash Bins

Raccoons are typically drawn to easily accessible food sources, and your trash bins are a treasure trove for them. Invest in raccoon-resistant trash cans or secure your existing bins with bungee cords or locks. Make sure to store trash in tightly sealed plastic bags to minimize smells that might attract raccoons.

Seal Entry Points

Inspect your property, looking for any potential entry points into your home and outbuildings. Raccoons are intelligent and dexterous creatures, capable of gaining access through surprisingly small openings. Use materials like heavy gauge hardware cloth, metal mesh, or metal flashing to seal any gaps. This includes chimneys, attic vents, and gaps beneath porches and decks.

Pet Safety

Keep a close eye on your pets when they’re outdoors – especially at night, when raccoons are most active. Supervision is key, and it’s also a good idea not to leave pet food outside. If your furry friends have been exposed to raccoons or their waste, seek veterinary advice promptly.

Professional Help

If you encounter raccoons in or around your home, it’s not the time for a DIY approach. Contact a professional wildlife removal service. They have the knowledge and equipment necessary to handle raccoons safely and can provide valuable advice on how to prevent future visits.

Does Raccoon Feces Carry Disease?

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Exposure to raccoon feces or urine can lead to disease. In reality, coming into contact with raccoon waste is a prevalent way of getting infected. It is advisable not to handle raccoon latrines on your premises without proper protection and training.

Can Raccoons Pass Diseases to Your Pets?

Pets are often more vulnerable to raccoon diseases compared to humans. In addition to the infections mentioned earlier, dogs and cats are at risk of illnesses such as Canine Distemper, Feline Distemper, and Parvo.

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Conclusion

Raccoons can carry a cocktail of diseases and parasites that present a real threat to human and pet health. By taking proactive steps to eliminate attractants and fortify your home against wildlife entry, you can significantly reduce the risk of encountering raccoon-borne illnesses. Remember, when in doubt, it is always best to seek professional assistance. Your health and that of your family, including furry members, are invaluable. Be diligent, be proactive, and be safe.

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