This is actually a very commonly asked question, especially by homeowners and property owners who are faced with the reality of removing one from their land. Raccoons are known for many things — they are funny, determined, and quite clumsy characters, much more intelligent than we usually give them credit for, and much more stubborn too. Sadly, raccoons also have another reputation, but this one is bad — they are known to be one of the biggest threats to the USA in terms of the rabies virus.
It is illegal in some states to trap a raccoon and then release it back into the wild again, in case it is infected with the rabies virus and goes on to spread the disease far and wide. A raccoon that has been infected with rabies and is trapped would be euthanized to ensure the protection of all people and animals it might come into contact with. Read about Do Raccoons Attack People?
Rabies is a huge threat — you are right to be wary of the disease. It can kill, and it does in so many cases. Earlier symptoms can be vague and not easily linked to any one condition specifically, and it will only be much later on, when earlier symptoms have not gone away, but gotten worse, that most people would seek medical advice. At this stage, the disease may already be too advanced to do anything about it. With the rabies virus, treatment must be immediate — advised within the first 24 hours.
Every raccoon has the potential to be infected with the rabies virus, and it might be infected. You won’t always know from looking at the animal whether or not it is infected and the disease can actually lay dormant in the body of a wild animal for many days or weeks before it starts to cause the body to deteriorate.
Are all raccoons in North America infected with rabies? No, but we recommend that you treat them all as if they are acting rabid. With the infection lying dormant for a while in some cases, a small and seemingly insignificant bite now could cause some pretty serious repercussions later on, especially if you do not seek medical attention.
Go back to the Raccoon Removal
page, or learn tips to do it yourself with my How to Get Rid of Raccoons