Although a common part of Virginia’s wildlife population, raccoons can be serious pests and pose grave health risks if they move into your home or office building. What’s more, they’re getting progressively more comfortable around humans, so the chances of contracting rabies is higher than ever before.
Raccoons can spread the rabies virus among themselves, to other animals, and infect people as well. The infection occurs if an unvaccinated animal or person is bitten by a rabid raccoon, whose saliva carries the virus, which in turn attacks the victim’s nervous system. Thankfully, a prompt vaccination will protect you from getting infected if you get scratched or bitten.
Raccoons can also carry a dangerous parasite called roundworm, which can cause disorders of the eye and central nervous system – and even lead to death in severe cases. Roundworm infections can happen when people accidentally ingest the eggs (found in raccoon droppings) because they’ve come into contact with a contaminated area – and failed to thoroughly wash their hands or other objects in their possession at the time.
Common tainted outdoor areas, where raccoons leave droppings, are at the base of trees, large rocks, woodpiles, as well as in and round barns and other outbuildings. Racoons who have nestled inside buildings may scatter droppings in attics, fireplaces and other areas of your home or business. In addition to rabies and roundworm, racoons are also susceptible to the infectious parvo and distemper viruses which can be transmitted to your pets.
What’s more, raccoons can be a costly nuisance because they’ve been known to raid garbage cans, dig up vegetable gardens, and freshly sodded areas of your lawn, and damage roofs and wall spaces.