Fido is Rabies Free, But is the Raccoon in Your Attic?

Rabies virus is commonly vaccinated in domestic dogs and cats. In previous decades it has been a prevalent disease, something an individual would worry about if a new/strange dog appeared on the block. The scene from To Kill a Mockingbird when Scout encounters a rabid stray comes to mind. With the research we have now though we don’t have that much to worry about. It is no longer a problem that one would need to worry about on a day to day basis since the vaccine, or so we thought. Yes, your neighborhood pets are rabies free, but some wildlife species are not.

Rabies is a transmissible disease that can be life threatening if contracted. It is typically transmitted through bites and could also be transmitted through mucus membranes if the virus is in contact. Unless treated immediately this could take a turn for the worst for a person. Mammals under the orders Chiroptera and Carnivora can be reservoirs for this virus. Skunks, coyotes, feral cats, bats, and raccoons are just a few of the many.

Procyon lotor, or more infamously known as the trashcan bandit or common raccoon, is one of a few species of wildlife that can be a rabies reservoir. That means they don’t necessarily have to be showing the usual signs for rabies, but if one has it in their system and bites you its extremely dangerous.

Okay, so wildlife could have rabies but how does that affect me in my home? With the ever-growing urban landscape wildlife are coming into contact with humans more and more. Raccoons are especially known to be carpe diem critters, they see a trashcan or attic that they can get into (or at least think they can) and they go for it. Because of this mentality and their clever mindedness their scientific name should be Procyon ‘looter’ instead of lotor. Since many are adapted to being within close proximity with society, you need to be careful. The ones that are in your attic or are about to be could potentially be carrying the rabies virus. That’s not terrible for your pets, but it is for you.

In our immediate area there have not been any reported cases of raccoons testing positive for rabies in the past decade according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Most of the cases you hear about come from the Eastern Coast but its making its move west fairly quick. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services has remedied a way to slow that spread down. They create a virtual barrier as best they can by dropping baits containing oral vaccinations across the rabies positive areas and areas that border it to keep raccoon rabies at bay. When the raccoon eats the bait then they will essentially be safe from contracting and/or carrying the rabies virus. These baits are not harmful to your pets but if you get the vaccine itself in contact with you, you need to call the USDA APHIS.

Since the Shelby County area has only had a couple raccoon rabies cases in the past few years its almost safe to bet that the raccoon probably isn’t carrying the virus. But its always better to ere on the side of caution than to be the next rabies case. It is best to let someone who is trained to relocate the raccoon safely to its natural habitat. So, if you hear any trashcan bandits throwing down in your attic just give us a call and we will come and check it out. As always if you have any nuisance wildlife concerns you can message us here or Schedule Service Now.