How Common is Rabies in Raccoons?

Rabies in Raccoons

Most cases of rabies occur in the wild. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), wild animals account for over 92% percent of reported rabies cases.

The disease is much rarer in domestic animals. Rabies is usually only transferred to a dog or cat through the bite of an infected animal.

We’re often asked about raccoons and whether there is a danger to pets from raccoons giving them rabies.

Related: Raccoon Behavior FAQ


How common is rabies in raccoons?

Aggressive RaccoonThere has not been a reliable study to show the percentage of raccoons with rabies. The majority of raccoons DO NOT have rabies. However, as far as reported cases of rabies are concerned, raccoons are one of the most likely wild animals to carry rabies.

Raccoons are the second most common wild species in reported cases of rabies. According to the CDC, raccoons account for 29.4 percent of all reported rabies cases. This is second only to bats, which account for 30.9 percent of rabies cases, and more than skunks, which account for 24.8 percent of rabies cases.

Raccoons, bats, and skunks are the most common “Rabies Vector Species”, along with foxes and groundhogs. These are the types of animals that when infected pose the greatest threat to pass it to others.

Related: Identification of Rabies and How to Protect Yourself and Your Pets


How to tell if a raccoon has rabies

The only way to be certain a raccoon has rabies is for it to be tested. However, a rabid raccoon will often show telltale signs, symptoms, and behaviors.

Signs of rabies in raccoons

  • Appear disoriented
  • Walking unsteadily
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Makes unusual noises
  • Weepy, goopy eyes
  • Aggressive behavior

Related: Top 6 Signs That a Raccoon is Rabid


Raccoon with rabies memeContracting rabies

Rabies is a virus and you or your pet can only contract rabies through direct contact with an infected animal and transmission of its saliva into the body.

This happens usually through a bite from a rabies-infected animal or through its saliva coming in contact with a cut or wound. You cannot catch rabies be being near an infected animal, or simply by touching it.

Related: Common raccoon diseases


Rabies treatment

If you believe there is a chance you may have caught rabies from a wild animal, you should visit your doctor immediately. If treated quickly, rabies in humans is curable.

The CDC recommends washing any wounds immediately with soap and water. Even doing this can decrease your chances of rabies.

See your doctor for attention for any trauma due to an animal attack before considering the need for rabies vaccination.

Your doctor, possibly in consultation with your state or local health department, will decide if you need a rabies vaccination.


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More resources about rabies

Raccoons and Public Health – The Humane Society

Rabies – Centers for Disease Control

Rabies – Wikipedia

Wild animals with rabies – Centers for Disease Control

When should I seek medical attention? – Centers for Disease Control