Raccoon Story.....are your pets Rabies Vx current?

sheepco(MN z4)October 7, 2007

Sorry, on my soapbox once again!

The names have been changed to not embarass the innocent ( and NO it was not me!)

Some time over the weekend Brian, Becky and Brad (all under 8yrs) were out playing in the yard and a raccoon happened to wander close..."oh Dad, look how friendly it is!"

They 'oh' and 'ah' over it, and eventually can feed it treats and touch it. How sweet! Oh oh, don't let Smokey (the husky) out, he might chase it away!

Towards the end of the 2nd or 3rd day, after the family has played with it frequently, suddenly the raccoon turns nasty, "oh Dad, it's hissing!" Dad shoos it away, but it comes after him and bites him, Ouch!

Later that evening Dad and Mom watch as the raccoon has a seizure in the yard....uh,oh...Mom hits the Net...'may show some signs of Rabies'....

Next morning Dad goes in to the local doctor to check out the bite wound...explains the story. Gets antibiotics for the wound. Doctor says "keep a close watch on the coon". So they go home, put the raccoon in a cage...and wait.

Next morning - lo and behold! The raccoon has escaped, no where to be found.

Mom calls the vet clinic to see if Smokey is current on his Rabies vaccination - no, sorry, he was due a month ago. She explains the whole story to me. The first thing I said was "call your Doctor and tell him the raccoon is gone, then give your doctor this # (MN Dept of Health). Then after a long conversation about everything I KNOW about Rabies, I explain that the area State Vet or I will get back to her. Then I called our area state vet and gave HIM the whole story...............I speculated on whether he thought I was making this up........

Anyway, he met with the family, the doctor, the dog, etc... the dog got a booster vaccination (he was kenneled and had no direct contact and was only a month past due), and the whole family that cuddled that cute coon is getting Rabies shots (only a series of 10 now). Thankfully they have no farm cats,


1) DON'T play with raccoons! (Did they think someone had dumped a pet coon into the wild?)

2) DON'T assume any wild animal is 'friendly'!

3) If a wild animal bites you - go to a doctor!

4) You DON'T quarantine a wild animal capable of carrying Rabies Virus that bites without provocation...you euthanize it and test it for Rabies. (sorry, but how stupid was this MD??? If that raccoon had been sent in for testing and came back negative no one would be getting shots!)


This spring we had a bat, found in a teenagers bed linens, positive for Rabies. That youth got Rabies shots, though he showed no signs of bite wounds. 2 years ago it was a barn kitten that was sickly and brought into the house - bit a child in the heel without provocation - tested positive for Rabies. 3 years ago it was a live bat a family found the farm dog playing with in the yard, during the day - tested postive for Rabies. The dog was euthanized and found negative........

.....$16.00 for a 3 year Rabies Vaccination (in MN) could prevent alot of heartache and pain (though not all)....it's out there, don't kid yourself.

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Wow, that is so scary, Sarah. Thanks so much for the information! The Old Yeller story isn't such an uncommon thing, it turns out! Yikes.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 9:44AM
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One thing to add - people that intend to be around wild animals more than the average person should get pre-exposure shots.

Thanks for the information Sarah. The raccoon should have have been taken away by animal control to be euthanized and head tested. Even if negative - if I was the Dad, who was bitten, I would have gotten the shots anyway. Geez - didn't anybody in MN have a shotgun to kill the raccoon when it was in the yard having seizures rather than handle it, if the animal control could not get there right away. It should not have been caught and caged by the homeowners only to escape and disappear.

BTW - rabies can show up after exposure much later than you think. Even a year.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 10:08AM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)

Hmmmmmmm. Sarah. Good reminder for everyone! Thanks.

Here the issue with a wild animal exposure would be in the hands of the health department. The animal is euthanized and the brain examined immediately! Forget the MD.

Pre bite exposure injections are NOT something to be taken lightly either. There are potential *serious* health risks to consider as a result of the vaccines! They may be just as serious as the disease.

Many years ago I remember that someone caught a baby raccoon in their yard and wanted the animal to become a pet for his THREE YEAR OLD DAUGHTER! OMG! They carry a species of roundworm that is potentially fatal to humans not to mention the potential for disease transmission!!!

Any way, the daughter wanted to play with her new pet and got her finger bitten. (Well duh!) The two month old raccoon was brought in, killed and the head removed to send off for the health dept. to examine. During the interim the little girl started her post bite injections. The raccoon was negative for Rabies. Both the raccoon and child suffered because the parent was stoopid!

I myself have been exposed to Rabies three times but cannot have the post exposure injections any more nor the pre-exposure vaccine. I have severe reactions and need to just be ultra careful when I handle the wild ones. If not, stick a fork in me because I am done either way!

The animal vaccines are more to protect the public health rather than the pet but it works well for all.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 3:27PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Ditto! Even if you think you know how to handle a wild animal it is a reckless thing to do. There are many in my subdivision and while I know the dangers and try to avoid contact, some idiot in the area has been getting them too used to humans. After they tried to get into my lap, cadge treats of fish food and examined my pockets!!! I had to turn the hose on them. I would love to find out who it was. I don't mind their visits but I draw the line at close contact. One visited the pond last night while I was feeding the fishies and he stayed, very cautiously, on the opposite side of the pond watching me as closely as if I had the hose in my hand. He skeined out a few pieces of fish food but when I coughed he jumped and withdrew to make sure I was not after him. I blame part of this on the restaurant nearby that encourages their patrons to feed the wildlife off of their deck. It makes me very uncomfortable to see small children, encouraged by their parents, holding out pieces of bread to a raccoon. Really bad potential there. Sandy

    Bookmark   October 10, 2007 at 11:08AM
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ccoombs1(7B SC)

What a great reminder. I think one of my dogs is past due....need to check that. Around here, if a patient comes to a doctor with an animal bite, the doctor is required to report the bite to the local health department who follows up with the patient and the owner of the animal (if known). A couple of years ago my adult daughter was bitten by a neighbors dog. She was trying to do a good deed by looking at the dog's ID tag and calling it's owner when the seemingly friendly dog bit her. The jack-ass owner wasn't even apologetic..."oh my doggie would never bite anyone...he was probably just playing"....yeah right...that was a NASTY bite. He did pay the bills though, and had to keep his dog quarantined at his house for a month, under health department supervision.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2007 at 11:08AM
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sheepco(MN z4)

As I understand it, here in MN the State Board of Animal Health, thus our area State Vet, IS only responsible for the dog in this case (and the raccoon if it was still around). But he was more than willing to educate the family, and the doctor in this case, as was his job. And I'm sure the Dept of Health guides the MD's, I'm not sure what they (they MDs) are required to do, but all too often we get to euthanize the cat, dog, bat, raccoon, or whatever. I'm sorry I referred to the MD as stupid, he/she was just "un-enlightened"....no, I'm not sorry, it doesn't take much to understand the risks and CALL SOMEONE THAT KNOWS if you don't...

My main point, which you all understood, is 'vaccinate your pets against Rabies'. It ain't prefect, but it's the best we have.

PS: My pre-exposure Rabies vaccinations were thankfully uneventful (none of that duck embryo thing), and as of last month, my titers are still high (meaning I'm pretty-much protected :) after 17 years without re-vaccination.

So I will now step off the box. Thank you.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2007 at 11:21PM
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"PS: My pre-exposure Rabies vaccinations were thankfully uneventful (none of that duck embryo thing), and as of last month, my titers are still high (meaning I'm pretty-much protected :) after 17 years without re-vaccination."

Sarah - many of my wildlife rescue worker and vet friends say the same thing - high titers and no problems with the pre-exposure shots. That is not to say some might have a problem like C3D did. Vaccines cause bad reactions to some people and their pets maybe due to sensitivities, prior health or current health conditions or allergies, etc.! Unfortunatly, one doesn't know ahead of time to expect the bad reaction. Hindsight is always 20/20.

"So I will now step off the box. Thank you."

You can stay on that box as long as you want! Actually, I don't even see it as being on a soap box anyway'. You were provided factual information and relaying a true story. Nothing soap boxy about that! :-)

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 8:38AM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)

My titer was less than 5 about 15 years ago which essentially means I had no protection at that time. I'm sure it is zero now. Oh well. Whatchagonna do? In my case try not to get bitten. :-)

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 2:00PM
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Yeah - you are in a bad situation C3D being a vet AND taking care of all that wildlife.

I would be careful not to handle certain mammals (bats, foxes, raccoons). Go for the opposums - they almost never have rabies!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 4:03PM
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sheepco(MN z4)

Yeah C3D, I know you guys are careful, but please stay safe!

Kansas State U lab ran a special last month - Rabies Awareness or something - $10/test (wish I would have thought to post that here for all of you!), so our whole staff got tested. I was still greater than 50. I was amazed since I was vaccinated in 1989.

Funny thing was of the 3 techs none of us was willing to draw blood from any of our co-workers or vets! Nancy was trained as a med-tech (she's our office manager - no, I gladly bow to her, she keeps us SANE and up right - so it's been a while for her), Krista and I are vet techs. EEEWWWWWWW....I DO NOT DO humans, thank you very much!!!! Neither does Krista! We had to get Nancy's niece, a lab tech at our local hospital (and the best vampire I know) to come stick us all. :)

Our oldest vet (A MN Grad of ~ 1968) told several stories of those earlier pre-exposure vaccines - far more vaccine reactions - robust guys dropping like flies before they even got out the door.

I think pre-exposure Rabies vaccinations should be free for anyone that works with animals (including farmers). Some insurance companies don't cover them.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 11:26PM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)

Yeah C3D, I know you guys are careful, but please stay safe!....

LOL! Gotta stop Mike from bringing home unconscious HBC squirrels then, huh? :-)

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 8:14AM
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sheepco(MN z4)

Nawh, you can still do squirrels, I hear they rarely carry Rabies :)

Oops, wrong answer? .... Mike! Stop bringing home squirrels!


    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 9:18PM
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