Raccoon-borne pathogens of importance to humans—Viruses and bacteria


Northern raccoons (Procyon lotor) can carry many diseases that present significant health hazards to both people and pets. Some of these diseases are asymptomatic, showing no signs of infection, and often do not affect raccoons, but can still be passed on and deadly to other animals, including humans. Because it is not possible to be certain if a wild animal is sick, it is safer to consider the animal a hazard and avoid it. Contact animal control or a wildlife rehabilitator if you suspect an animal is sick or behaving abnormally (contact details for Florida wildlife rehabilitators can be found on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website). Sick wild animals can act tame and confused but should never be approached as if they are domesticated. They are still wild animals that will likely see you as a threat, and can act aggressively. Due to their successful adaptation to urban environments, it is common for raccoons to come into contact with humans. This document is part of a series addressing health hazards associated with raccoons and specifically describes the most important raccoon-borne viruses and bacteria. Information on other raccoon-borne parasites, as well as more details about the raccoon roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis, can be found in other documents of this series. The following viruses and bacteria are known to occur in raccoons and are a concern for people and/or pets: rabies, canine distemper, feline distemper/panleukopenia, canine parvovirus, Salmonella, tularemia, Edwardsiella septicemia, and leptospirosis.


Reference:Jarvis C., Wisely S. M. & Basille M. (2020). Facts about wildlife diseases: raccoon-borne pathogens of importance to humans—Viruses and bacteria. UF/IFAS Extension: WEC433. DOI: ft9s