Halton Region Health Department has confirmed the first case of rabies in a raccoon in Burlington after receiving positive test results from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Oct. 4.
Signs a raccoon is rabid
Raccoons are one of the most common carriers of rabies in Canada. Therefore, the homeowner should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a potentially rabid raccoon. Many people think seeing a raccoon during the day means it is rabid; however, that may not be the case.
Raccoons are often active during the day since a female could be taking longer than normal to locate food to feed a nest of young raccoons or looking for a new territory to occupy. Also, unusual or erratic behavior does not always mean a raccoon is rabid – it may have been poisoned, shot, hit by a vehicle or been in a fight with a predator or another raccoon.
The following are signs that a raccoon is rabid or otherwise unhealthy:
- The raccoon staggers as though it seems “drunk”
- The raccoon has “weeping” of the eyes and salivating or frothing at the mouth
- The raccoon’s fur on the face appears wet and tangled
- The raccoon seems to be unaware of noises or unwary of movements that would normally send it scurrying to a protected area
- Unexplained aggression or lethargy
- Throat muscle constriction that causes choking, drooling, and frothing of the mouth and loss of leg function due to paralysis.
If one sees a raccoon that shows any of these signs, do not try to capture or chase off the animal. Immediately call your local animal control unit, describe the animal’s behavior and request the animal be removed. If you, or a pet, have come in contact with an oddly behaving raccoon, find medical attention as quickly as possible.
Protect Your Family and Pets
- Keep all trash in tightly secured trash cans with lids.
- Do not touch or feed wild or stray animals. Wild animals, even cute young ones, that look as if they need affection, help or rehabilitation might in fact have rabies.
- Teach your children not to play with stray, strange or wild animals.
- Keep all doors, windows and other openings tight fitting and secure against animal entry.
- Maryland law prohibits residents from possessing certain wild animals, including raccoons and foxes, because these and other animals can pose a significant risk to humans. Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators should handle wildlife.