Sure, raccoons look all cute and cuddly, but in reality they're huge carriers of deadly diseases. Raccoons of all sizes have the potential to carry diseases, it doesn't matter if they were just born, they can still be covered in viruses, bacteria and parasites, said The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Humans can also pick up these infections by inappropriately handling raccoon excrement, or more seriously, if they come into contact with the animal. Being bitten, scratched or exposed to feces are all cause for a trip to the doctor.
There are are several types of diseases humans can contract from these masked pests. Know what danger you're in if you come too close to a raccoon:
Most people already know about this disease but it's worth digging into a little since it can be fatal, explained KingCountry.gov. This virus is most commonly carried by raccoons. You can contract it if you are exposed to its infected saliva, which usually happens if the rabid animal bites you. You can tell if an animal is rabid or not based on its behavior. A rabid raccoon will be acting aggressively - it will come into daylight and even approach humans. The most tell-tale sign of an infected raccoon is if it is foaming at the mouth, so stay away.
Aka, the type of roundworm parasite that is carried internally by raccoons. You can get this disease by ingesting the parasite's eggs, usually after improper handling of raccoon feces, reported King Country. You won't be able to tell if the pest has the parasite, you just have to exercise proper pest inspection methods.
You may have heard of this infection because it's the one that gives you some serious gastrointestinal issues, explained DEM. Humans get Giardia when they consume something that has been in contact with contaminated water or has touched a surface that the infection has come in contact with. Again this is a hard disease to know if an animal is carrying it or not, but if you realize you may have touched a dirty surface, head to the doctor.
How to keep raccoons away from your property
If you do have a run-in with a raccoon, you should immediately get tested for an infection, - it'll be important to get ahead of any resulting disease. Of course, keeping raccoons away from your property is the best source of prevention. In order to do this KingCountry.gov explained that you should do your best to raccoon-proof your residence. Basic advice warns you against feeding these pests, as they will keep returning to your home if they know it is a source of food. Keep a tight lock on your trash bins, even strap lids down if you have to, and store pet food indoors. If you've had a barbecue, make sure you bring in all the fixings, and give the grill a thorough cleaning. Consider getting motion detector lights on your home. Raccoons are nocturnal animals and are easily scared, so having a bright light snap on if they get too close will send them back into the darkness.
If you have a real infestation on your hands, or notice a raccoon acting oddly - like approaching you during the day, or foaming at the mouth - be sure to call local pest control management. These situations are too much for someone who isn't professionally trained to deal with, so leave it to them.