Rabies & Distemper

Raccoon rabies first appeared in Massachusetts in 1992 and raccoons are the primary (but not the only) carriers for this disease. Rabies is a neurological disorder that can cause raccoons to act lethargic, move in an uncoordinated manner, or exhibit unprovoked aggressive behavior. Rabies can infect most mammals including humans and common domestic pets. If there is any direct contact between a raccoon and a person or a pet, contact the Department of Public Health or your town Board of Health for guidance. More information on rabies.

Canine distemper virus, can cause symptoms very similar to rabies. Canine distemper virus is not transmissible to humans and most domestic dogs are vaccinated against this virus, however, any raccoon that comes into contact with humans or domestic animals should be treated as a potentially rabid animal.

Remember that seeing a raccoon during daytime hours is not an indicator of disease.

Raccoon Roundworm

Raccoons are primary carriers of raccoon roundworm. The roundworm is shed in raccoon feces.Raccoon roundworm rarely has negative effects on raccoons but it can be very dangerous when it infects other mammals, such as rabbits or humans. A person can become infected by placing objects that are contaminated with raccoon feces in his or her mouth. Because of this, it is important to keep sandboxes covered, as raccoons (and neighborhood cats) may use them as latrine sites. Also, when cleaning an area that was formerly occupied by raccoons (such as sheds or barns), wear gloves and a face mask to avoid ingestion of the raccoon roundworm eggs. For more information on raccoon roundworm, visit the Centers for Disease Control Parasite page.