By Carole Stewart
(HIT) – Homeowners who regularly spend time and money to grow gardens and create safe and sanitary garbage centers, are not surprisingly outraged, when wildlife specimens visit, and do their mischief. Raccoon, found throughout the country, top the list of critters out to destroy vegetable gardens, trash cans and bird feeders.
Cleaning up after potentially rabies infected raccoons, is not for the casually informed. Skunks and ground hogs contribute their own nuisance and the while the fox may have a pretty coat, so also does he have the potential of a deadly bite. While most wild animal visits can be classified as nuisance, it is important for homeowners to understand danger signs to protect homes and families. And it is important to notify an authority to protect the community.
Critters like raccoons and bats play dirty. Are you prepared?
Does your home have an emergency plan that includes what to do in case of an attack by a wild animal? Do you know when and where to seek medical help, and what to use for emergency wound cleaning and care. Are you familiar with the danger signs for rabid animals? An animal wandering in a place not usually inhabited by wild creatures during the day, or an animal that is aggressive to people rather than frightened by their presence? Raccoons, for example infected with rabies will appear different than their healthy brothers. They may be noticeably clumsy, have trouble walking or fall over a lot. The may also be very thin and have thinning or worn-looking fur. A less obvious but essentially dangerous sign of rabies is when a raccoon loses its natural fear of humans or pets. If a raccoon is aggressive and looks sick or clumsy, it may well be rabid. It is important however to understand that an animal does not need to be foaming at the mouth to be rabid.
Prompt medical attention and thorough cleanup needed
If you, a family member or a pet has been bitten or exposed dangerously, contact the hospital right away. Rabies is a deadly viral infections that lives in the saliva of a rabid animal is is most commonly spread through a bite from an infected animal. The virus can also be spread from scratches and infected saliva entering a wound or the eyes, ears, or mouth. You will likely have to go through a vaccination treatment, which usually consists of five injections over the course of a month. This treatment is safe and works well.
Next you will want to wash the contact spot with generous amounts of warm water and soap. If the rabid raccoon or bat is killed, be sure to use gloves while handling it and try not to damage the head—as brains of rabid animals are important to research. Clean the area and any tools or cages that held the rabid animal with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water to kill the virus and prevent its spread.
Homeowners may additionally want to:
1. install guards on chimneys to block access into the home
2. inspect soffit and roof to make sure there are no points of entry
3. close off any hiding spots under porches and decks
4. maintain tight-ftting screens on windows
5. keep garage doors closed to prevent critters from getting inside
Safe handling of all nuisance wildlife is a challenge faced by many homeowners—requiring in many areas that the animal be destroyed and not relocated—in cases where rabies is suspected.