Raccoon Tracks... information, pictures, and more
raccoon navigation Homepage - Raccoon Pictures - General Raccoon Facts - Early Account of Raccoons in America - Mountain Men: Coonskin Caps, Fess Parker, and Americana - Raccoon Rabies - Pet Raccoons? - How to Get Rid of Raccoons (Without Hurting Them) - Sources - Links


In the United States, 6 viral strains of rabies [RAY-bees] are carried by bats, and 5 viral strains are carried by land mammals, i.e., 2 fox strains, 2 skunk strains, and the raccoon strain. All strains of rabies are 100% fatal; however, rabies are not easily transmitted, and they are easily prevented.
[33] Rabies is an acute viral disease of the nervous system of warm-blooded animals. The rabies virus reaches the brain through the nerves, reproduces, then travels back through the nerves to the rest of the body. Once the rabies virus reaches the salivary glands, it is released into the saliva. It produces submissive or violent behavior before eventual death. [34] Following exposure to rabies (normally through the bite of a rabid animal), a rabies post-exposure treatment -- which is a vaccination of the rabies immune globulin administered around the wound and in the buttocks, followed by 5 vaccinations in the arm (not the stomach) over the next 28 days -- will prevent the development of rabies, if infection symptoms have not already occurred. Those symptoms are: first, fever, anorexia, headache, lethargy, numbness or tingling at the site of the bite, then, hyperactivity, disorientation, hallucinations, seizures, hydrophobia (intense fear of water), paralysis, and finally coma. No symptoms occur during the incubation period for the rabies virus, which, in humans, may be as little as 9 days, usually is 20-90 days, but can even be as long as several years. [35]

Raccoon strain rabies is just as deadly to the raccoon as it it is to untreated humans, but the latency period before symptoms become active in both raccoons and humans is about two months -- and sometimes up to six months -- which is enough time for a diseased raccoon to mate and produce a litter of rabid raccoons.
[36] Gestation -- raccoonconception to delivery -- in a raccoon is 63 days. In that time, 3 or 4 baby raccoons -- cubs or kits -- are born. Sometimes there may be as many as 7. Raccoon cubs forage for food with their mothers at 10-12 weeks old, and the female raccoon reaches sexual maturity at one year. [37] Animal protection organizations such as Animal People have followed the plight of the raccoon, as the public noticed a resurgence of raccoon rabies in 1997. Asian fur markets were giving $8 per pelt in 1994, and were paying as much as $21 per pelt in the spring of 1997. Trapping and killing of the raccoon to stop the spread of raccoon rabies, according to Animal People, has not worked, i.e., "Hunters killed as many more [raccoons]. Yet rabies kept spreading because the killing both obliged raccoons to wander farther in search of mates and opened habitat, encouraging large litters... Dr. William Winkler of the National Centers for Disease Control warned in the National Academy of Sciences' handbook Control of Rabies: 'Persistent trapping or poisoning campaigns as a means to rabies control should be abolished. There is no evidence that these costly and politically attractive programs reduce either wildlife reservoirs or rabies incidence." [38]

How can we reasonably stop the spread of raccoon rabies? Both the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the respective state departments of health have participated in programs to eliminate raccoon rabies through an Oral Rabies Vaccine -- usually in a rural setting. Vaccinating wild raccoons, instead of killing them is the most effective way to stop raccoon rabies. An Oral Rabies Vaccine bait (dyed pink) is inserted within a compressed block of fishmeal and fish oil, which is very attractive to raccoons. Dropped from planes and distributed by land vehicles, the bait is quickly consumed within 5 days. Once consumed by the raccoon, antibodies will develop within 2-3 weeks to protect the newly vaccinated raccoon against exposure from rabid raccoons. The spread of rabies is greatly reduced by ever greater numbers of raccoons that have been successfully vaccinated. Health department professionals recommend pet owners to keep their dogs and cats inside or on leashes, so only the raccoons can consume the bait. Small quantities consumed by the family pet will not harm the pet, but people with immunodeficiency may be prone to a local virus infection. Rinsing with soap and water can prevent infection. Otherwise, contact your local health department, if exposed to the vaccine.
[39] Though raccoon rabies has but rarely ever resulted in a fatal case of human rabies, Edward P. Hurley III -- a 25-year-old electrical engineer from Northern Virginia, who enjoyed jogging -- died of raccoon rabies on March 10, 2003. After developing a low-grade fever, he couldn't seem to shake the flu-like symptoms for 10 days. On day 11, his words slurred and he couldn't keep his balance. A coma resulted four days later, then death. Edward P. Hurley III became the first and only person in the United States ever to die of raccoon rabies. We need to be more careful about our surroundings, as the suburbs are pushing further and further into formerly wild habitats; but admittedly, raccoons have become adept urban dwellers, as well. [40]

Advice from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for "Rabies Prevention"
(1) Observe a respectful distance from wild animals.
(2) Do not feed wild animals. (If necessary, eliminate bird feeders.)
(3) Secure food and garbage to prevent wild animals access to them.
(4) Only place trash out on the same day that it will be picked up.
(5) Seal openings in attics, basements, porches, sheds, and barns.
(6) Cap chimneys with screens.
(7) Vaccinate all pets.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only 5 people have ever survived a viral rabies infection after symptoms have appeared. In a November 24, 2004 article in Medical News Today, "Girl survives rabies without a vaccine, first case ever," the first medical case ever of a patient surviving rabies -- after the onset of infection -- occurred at Wisconsin's Children's Hospital, according to Dr. Rodnay Willoughty. Jeanna Giese, a 15-year-old girl, had been bitten by a rabid bat at a church service, and she did not seek treatment until 5 weeks later, when symptoms began to appear in mid-October. Four hours after diagnosing her condition, with her parents' permission, doctor's attempted a new technique to attack the virus -- a cocktail of two anesthetic and two viral drugs. The exact ingredients of the potentially, revolutionary treatment for rabies could not be revealed until published in a medical journal, as required by medical protocol.
[42] She was put into a medically induced coma for a week, kept in intensive care for two months, and returned home on New Year's Day (January 1, 2005). The Fond du Lac, Wisconsin teenager reported herself as "fine" to the press on her 16th birthday -- June 6, 2005. [43] It should be noted that drug cocktails are becoming more and more prevalent in the treatment of viral conditions, e.g., HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). And, spokespersons, such as Magic Johnson, for GlaxoSmithKline, a major drug company, have effectively increased the awareness that drug cocktails are useful in dealing with viral infections. [44]

back home

Copyright © 2005
Raccoon Pictures & Facts
While this website has no affiliation with Havahart®, the humane treatment of animals is encouraged!

Member of Fohn.net