Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain in mammals, including humans. It is a highly lethal disease; death usually follows within hours of the first symptoms appearing. Check our YouTube version by clicking here.
Raccoons & Rabies
In some states, raccoons are a “rabies vector species” (RVS). A vector in medical literature is a creature that transmits or carries disease to other animals.
This means that raccoons are high-risk animals for carrying and spreading rabies to people. Most raccoons will be healthy, and non-threatening, but they should still be avoided just in case.
How To Tell if a Raccoon Has Rabies
Sign #1: Paralyzed Legs
If a raccoon has fully or partially paralyzed back legs, with no apparent outward injury (such as a fall), there may be a change the raccoon has rabies. Walking around in circles is another sign.
Raccoons are mobile, active creatures, so any mobility issues should be taken as a warning sign of carrying a lethal disease such as rabies. If you can clearly see that there was an outward trauma issue (ie. getting ran over), you should still avoid the raccoon because any diseases the raccoon might be carrying may become more active when it is weakened.
Sign #2: Confusion
Raccoons are alert, purposeful creatures. They have a strong awareness to what is around them and know where they are going. If you see a raccoon that seems apathetic, confused, or not alert, you should take this as a sign that the raccoon may be a risk to your health.
Sudden, quick movements should scare the raccoon away. If this doesn’t, stay away from the raccoon!
Sign #3: Weird Noises
It IS normal for raccoons to chat among themselves, and make noises between each other. However when they are purposefully moving, foraging, or alone, they are almost always silent.
If a raccoon is consistently making strange noises, and even worse is alone while making noises, you should stay away from it to protect your health.
Sign #4: Foaming
Foaming at the mouth is a serious warning sign of rabies. If you see this symptom in ANY animal, you should get away from it immediately. There is a very high chance a creature with foaming at the mouth has rabies, and it will be very likely that it spreads to you if you get near the creature. If you get touched, spit on, bitten, or have any form of contact with a creature foaming at the mouth, seek medical attention immediately. Once severe rabies symptoms start appearing, you will not have long before requiring medical attention.
What To Do
If you see a raccoon or any animal with any of these symptoms- especially in your home or property area- call a wildlife expert immediately. Protect yourself, don’t be a statistic.