Raccoons can be a nuisance when they get into trash cans, but they can also affect people’s health. Humans who come into contact with raccoons or their urine or feces run the risk of developing some serious medical problems.
A raccoons can bite or scratch a human if it feels threatened. Some raccoons carry rabies and can spread it to humans and cause illness.
The most serious infection that a human can get from a raccoon is Baylisascaris procyonis, or raccoon roundworm. This parasite lives in a raccoon’s intestines. It causes little or no harm to a raccoon and sheds eggs into a raccoon’s feces. After the eggs become larvae, they become highly resistant to physical or chemical cleaning and can remain in the environment for a long time.
If the roundworm larvae are accidentally ingested by a dog, cat, or human, they can travel through the body to the brain, damage multiple organs, and cause severe neurological impairment or sometimes death. There is no effective cure for the illness. Approximately 30 cases have been reported around the world.
Raccoons can also spread leptospirosis, a bacterial infection. A human can contract it if broken skin comes into contact with raccoon urine or feces. It sometimes causes severe infections, such as meningitis, in humans. Accidental ingestion of raccoon feces has also reportedly led to salmonella infection.
The best way to protect yourself from these illnesses is to avoid contact with raccoons. If you see raccoon feces, clean it up as soon as possible. It takes about 21 days for eggs to form larvae. Wear gloves and a mask when cleaning because roundworm eggs can be inhaled. If you are a gardener, always wear shoes and gloves when working and wash your vegetables well before eating them.
Children are at greater risk of contracting these infections from raccoons because they are more prone to some of the illnesses and because they are more likely to be playing outside and to not wash their hands. Keep your children away from any surfaces that raccoons might have touched. If your children have a sandbox, keep it covered when it is not being used.
If you are concerned about raccoons on your property, don’t try to trap and remove them yourself because you could become sick or injured. Contact Anderson Wildlife Control and let us professionally live-trap and relocate the raccoons for you.