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As a species groundhogs are not generally as susceptible to disease as some of their rodent cousins, carrying significantly fewer diseases than species such as rats and mice, but there are still some concerns to bear in mind. Because the groundhogs are significantly larger than other rodents, they are more likely to be in a confrontation with pet animals or humans, and when they are cornered they are more likely to respond aggressively. This does mean that people who are scratched or bitten by groundhogs are still going to need to be vigilant, and be aware of any symptoms of illness that may arise.
This is one of the biggest concerns for those who come into contact with animals, as rabies is a very serious disease and can be fatal in a significant proportion of those who are infected. Signs that a groundhog may be rabid will include unusual aggression when it is not directly threatened, an aversion to water and frothing at the mouth. One myth is that all groundhogs active during the day are rabid, but this is not the case.
Although this isn't usually transmitted by the groundhogs themselves, it is the ticks that are carried by the animals that can transmit Lyme Disease, which can be a very dangerous disease if left untreated, and can be transmitted by the ticks after the death of the groundhog, as well as when coming into contact with them. One distinctive symptom is a 'bull's eye' rash, with a red rash, surrounded by a white circle and then another red rash circle, while symptoms of later stages can include motor function issues, migraines and even a type of arthritis.
This is usually of greatest to concern to those who have pets, and pets who have come into contact with a groundhog should look to get their animal treated for roundworm. This disease can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss, and in some cases you will even see the worms moving in the feces of your pet.
Ticks And Parasites
If you are trapping the groundhogs, then it is important to be cautious even when dealing with a carcass, as you are often more likely to catch a disease from the ticks and parasites carried by the groundhog than you are to catch something from the animal itself. Make sure you wear gloves and long sleeved clothing, and dispose of the carcass responsibly.
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