Why you should be concerned about RABIES in Raccoons

raccoon rabies

Why you should you be concerned about RABIES in RACCOONS

 If you suspect a raccoon in your area has rabies, keep you and your pets away and contact us

Hawkeye Bird and Animal Control cares about your family’s welfare. We service Hamilton, Burlington, the Golden Horseshoe and surrounding areas for animal and wildlife control and can safely trap animals that have, or are suspected to have rabies.  We will make sure your residence, business, industrial or commercial property is secure.

Recently quoted in the Hamilton Spectator, Dan Frankian of Hawkeye Bird and Animal Control said: "We are going to make the pre-exposure vaccine compulsory for all staff; the last thing we want is for my staff to be affected."

The number of documented cases of raccoons having rabies in the Greater Hamilton area of Ontario has grown to 60 and counting since December 2015. Twenty-Four skunks have also been identified in this area along with two fox in Perth County.  This is not only a threat to the raccoon population but has a large impact on people, homes and businesses. 

According to the CDC, ‘Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal.   The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms’.

Affects on Households

There is a high density of raccoons in urban areas. They can be a large nuisance to home owners causing damage to roofing, siding and other structures.  Additionally their feces carry toxins that are dangerous, especially to children.  In a worst case scenario raccoons find their way into peoples’ homes through rooves, facia board, and garages or inhabit the crawl spaces under porches and decks.  Because rabies is passed through raccoon saliva, biting or scratching, it is quite possible to come in contact with the disease in your own backyard. This is especially concerning for those with small children who have high touch contact.  It can take anywhere from 1-3 months for symptoms to appear, and as long as a year.  So an animal or person could be affected and not know.  If a human is showing physical symptoms, it will likely be fatal.

 

Affects on Businesses

Local homeowners aren’t the only ones who should be concerned with rabid raccoons.  Raccoons are quite intelligent as well as dexterous. Their bodies can flatten to allow them to fit in tight spaces.  This makes them very successful at breaking into many things such as dumpsters, ventilation, or even open back receiving doors of businesses and restaurants. 

This not only affects the health of the building, but has huge liability factors associated with it.  If a raccoon was to come into contact with a customer it could be a significant liability to the business.  Even worse if the business serves food and it becomes contaminated not only could you have a law suit on your hands but also health and safety regulators.  If an employee is affected, WSIB would also get involved.  In all cases this can be very costly and put a business or person(s) at risk.

 

What can you do? Steps to protect yourself

 

  1. Secure your home or business
    1. Ensure all crawl spaces of porches or decks are not accessible by animals
    2. Ensure that your roof and facia boards are in good repair and checked on a regular basis
    3. Make sure that chimneys are not left open if not in use
  2. Raccoon proof your outdoor spaces and deter your property from raccoons inhabiting it
    1. Do not leave out food (i.e. cat food, bird seed, compost open)
    2. Secure your garbage containers and recycle bins, wash out recyclable containers before tossing them so they have no odour
    3. Similar to your home, ensure any sheds or out buildings are secured and have no access points
    4. Remove any trees that are close to your house, as these make great highways from roof to roof
  3. Keep an eye out for raccoons who appear to be sick or acting strangely and call Animal Control

  4. If you suspect a person, child or pet has come in contact with a rabid raccoon seek medical attention immediately and contact Public Health

 

What the Government is doing

The Ontario Government will vaccine bait.  Meaning they will set up bait boxes for raccoons, skunks and foxes with bait to eat that contains vaccinations against rabies to help control the spread of this disease.  For more information, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/rabies.

 

The City of Hamilton / Hamilton Public Health is recommending those with a high risk of contracting rabies to invest in pre-exposure vaccines.  Particularly important for those in the animal control industry.  Something Hawkeye is taking seriously.

 

Map showing rabies cases as at April 13, 2016 (top) and cases as of February 8, 2017 (bottom)

rabies map 2016

rabies map 2017 update

If you see a sick looking raccoon or skunk, contact a licenced animal control operator like Hawkeye who can safely and humanely euthanize the animal and work with local authorities to stop the spread of rabies.

 

Reference:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/rabies

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/6495562-rabies-vaccines-urged-for-people-at-high-risk/

www.hamilton.ca/rabies

 

To talk with a Public Health Inspector about rabies call 905-546-2424 ext. 3327

If you have been bitten, scratches or saliva from a suspected rabid animal has entered an open wound contact 905-546-2489