When it comes to raccoons, the most common complaint is that they’re a general nuisance (knocking over and picking at your garbage) or that they’ve infiltrated your home – of your attic via roof vents or other entry points – and you need to get rid of them. However, what if you spot a raccoon around your home or neighbourhood that is acting oddly or visibly in poor health. This is a signal to stay away and call local animal control for help. If you have raccoons in your attic and want to get rid of them, call your local wildlife removal professionals. However, if you’ve spotted sick raccoons, then call animal control services immediately!

Raccoons, Rabies and Distemper in Hamilton-Halton Regions

After a long period with no reported cases, rabies have confirmed in raccoons in Hamilton as have cases of distemper. What is rabies and distemper in raccoons and what is the difference?

A recent story on CTV News provides a great insight:

Rabies vs. distemper

Ontario went 10 years without a confirmed case of raccoon rabies, until an animal tested positive for the disease in Hamilton in early December. Since the first report, officials have found 11 more cases in the area.

Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain. It can spread to other animals and humans, and can be fatal to both. Those that have been exposed to the disease can be treated if given the vaccine within 10 days of infection.

No cases of rabies have been confirmed in Toronto, but the city warned of an increase in Canine Distemper Virus in late October.

  • Distemper is similar to rabies, but generally less aggressive
  • Distemper cannot be transmitted to humans, but can be fatal for dogs.
  • Rabid animals often appear angry or vicious, while those with distemper often seem disoriented and lethargic
  • In both cases, affected animals often have matted fur, and are seen acting strangely.
  • They may not be afraid of humans, and can often be seen limping or dragging a hind leg.
  • Animals with distemper can also have a “very foul smell,” he said.

In July, the Toronto Sun reported on this as well, indicating that the cases seem to be contained.

What to do if You’ve Been in Contact with Rabies Infected Raccoons or Wildlife

The Ontario government provides excellent information on what to do if you’ve been in contact with a rabies infected animal. The Ministry website notes:

The animals that most often transmit rabies in Ontario are bats, foxes, skunks and raccoons. Once signs of rabies appear, in any animal, the disease is virtually always fatal. A series of vaccinations and treatment with rabies antibodies can prevent infection in humans in most cases if administered soon after exposure.

Be vigilant and get immediate attention if you feel you’ve been exposed to rabies via a bite (that pierces the skin) or any transfer of saliva to a wound, your saliva, eyes or nose.

Get Rid of Nuisance Raccoons Quickly

Importantly, if you have a raccoon problem in your home or on your property it is best to get rid of them humanely using the services of a wildlife control company. In Burlington, Milton, Oakville and Hamilton, Halton Wildlife Services can both remove the nuisance raccoon and ensure proper cleanup or damage repair, as required.