Raccoon encounters on the rise: Prevent rabies exposure with these tips

Press release from Henderson County Department of Public Health

The Henderson County Department of Public Health has seen an increase in calls about sick raccoons and raccoon encounters with humans and domestic animals. Avoid contact with raccoons and other wild or stray animals to reduce the risk of rabies exposure.

Rabies is a viral disease that can be deadly to people if medical care is not received before symptoms start. A healthy animal or person can get rabies when bitten, licked or scratched by a sick animal.

Contact with wild animals is the main way people, pets and livestock get exposed to rabies. It is commonly found in wild animals, especially raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Even if these animals appear fine, they may still have rabies.

“Rabies is a serious, but preventable disease,” said Medical Director Dr. Diana Curran. “You can lower the chance of rabies exposure for you and your pets by avoiding contact with wild animals and taking simple precautions.”

Please follow these tips to protect yourself, your family and your pets:

  • Never handle a raccoon. Only trained wildlife experts who have received pre-exposure treatment should handle wild animals.
  • If you see a sick raccoon, do not go near it or try to help. NC Wildlife Resources Commission should be contacted at 800-662-7137 to remove the sick raccoon.
  • If you have contact with a raccoon, call animal control and seek immediate medical care.
  • If your pet has contact with a raccoon, call animal control and take your pet to the vet immediately. When rendering aid to your animal try to avoid touching areas where the animal was bit or scratched to avoid exposure to infected secretions.
  • Make sure your pets are up-to-date on their rabies shots. This includes any outdoor cats you take care of. Pets without rabies shots that get injured by raccoons or other wildlife must be euthanized to prevent the spread of rabies.

For more information on rabies, visit www.hendersoncountync.gov/health. If you suspect your pet was exposed to rabies or have questions, contact the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office Animal Enforcement Division at 828-697-4911.

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