Diseases Raccoons Can Spread to Humans: 5 Health Risks Explained

diseases raccoons can spread to humans

Diseases raccoons can spread to humans pose a concern as these clever creatures often inhabit both urban and natural environments. From common bacterial infections to more serious concerns like rabies, understanding the risks associated with diseases raccoons can spread is essential.

In this brief exploration, we will shed light on some of the potential health threats posed by raccoons and discuss simple precautions to minimize the risk of disease transmission between these wild animals and humans.

Diseases Raccoons Can Spread to Humans

Raccoons can carry and transmit various diseases to humans, posing a threat to public health. 


Raccoons are potential carriers of rabies, a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. Rabies is typically transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, often through bites or scratches. In the case of raccoons, contact with their saliva can pose a risk of transmission, emphasising the importance of understanding and addressing factors like raccoon bite force when considering potential exposure scenarios.

Rabies is a serious condition that, if not treated promptly with post-exposure prophylaxis, can lead to neurological symptoms and ultimately be fatal.


Contact with raccoon urine or contaminated water sources may lead to leptospirosis. This bacterial infection is caused by Leptospira bacteria and can result in flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, and muscle aches.

Raccoons may carry and shed the bacteria in their urine, and humans can become infected through direct or indirect contact with the contaminated environment.

Baylisascaris Procyonis

Raccoon roundworm, known as Baylisascaris procyonis, can be a concern. The eggs of this parasitic roundworm are found in raccoon feces. If ingested by humans or pets, these eggs can hatch into larvae, causing severe neurological issues. It’s crucial to avoid direct contact with raccoon feces and take precautions when cleaning areas where raccoons have been.


Raccoons may carry Salmonella bacteria, which can cause gastrointestinal illness in humans. Contact with raccoon feces or surfaces contaminated with their droppings can lead to the transmission of Salmonella. Proper hygiene practices, such as thorough handwashing, are essential after potential exposure to reduce the risk of infection.


Raccoons may harbor Giardia parasites, which can lead to giardiasis in humans. Contamination of water sources or surfaces with raccoon feces can introduce Giardia cysts. Ingesting these cysts can result in gastrointestinal infections, characterized by symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and nausea.

Roundworm Infection

Raccoons can host a roundworm called Baylisascaris procyonis, which is present in their feces. Accidental ingestion of contaminated soil, water, or objects can lead to a serious condition known as larva migrans. This infection can affect the brain, eyes, and other organs, causing severe damage. Avoiding contact with raccoon feces and ensuring proper disposal can reduce the risk of roundworm transmission.

Raccoon Diseases Symptoms in Humans

If a raccoon has bitten you, it can transmit various diseases to humans, with associated symptoms ranging from flu-like manifestations to severe neurological effects.

DiseaseSymptoms in Humans
RabiesEarly: fever, headache; Later: confusion, hallucinations, paralysis
LeptospirosisFlu-like symptoms (fever, headache, muscle aches), jaundice, kidney damage
Baylisascaris ProcyonisNausea, fatigue, loss of coordination; Severe: blindness, coma
Salmonella InfectionGastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea)
Canine Distemper (Rare)Respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing, fever)
GiardiasisDiarrhea, abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea, weight loss

How to Protect Yourself From Raccoon-Borne Diseases

Protecting yourself from a raccoon bite is essential to avoid potential health risks associated with raccoon-borne diseases. Here are some key tips:

  • Avoid Close Contact: Keep a safe distance from raccoons, as they may feel threatened and react defensively. Never attempt to touch or handle a raccoon, especially if it appears agitated.
  • Secure Pets from Raccoon Feces: Ensure pets are supervised outdoors to prevent them from consuming raccoon feces, which may harbor parasites. Regular veterinary check-ups and preventive treatments can further protect them from potential diseases.
  • Secure Kitchen Garden: Implement measures to secure your kitchen garden, as raccoon feces or urine can contaminate soil and crops. Use fencing or other barriers to deter raccoons from accessing areas where you grow fruits, vegetables, or herbs, minimizing the risk of contamination.
  • Vaccinate Pets: Ensure your pets receive regular vaccinations, particularly for rabies and distemper, reducing the risk of disease transmission between animals.
  • Use Protective Gear: If you need to handle raccoon-infested areas, wear thick gloves and protective clothing to avoid raccoon bite. This is particularly important when cleaning up spaces where raccoons have been, such as attics or sheds.
  • Get Vaccinated: If there is a possibility of exposure to rabies, seek medical attention promptly. Post-exposure prophylaxis is crucial to prevent the development of rabies symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Diseases Raccoons Can Spread to Humans

Q1: How can raccoons spread diseases to dogs and cats?

A: Raccoons may transmit diseases to pets through bites, scratches, or contact with their saliva, feces, or urine. Diseases such as canine distemper and leptospirosis are examples that can affect dogs, while cats may be vulnerable to certain parasites present in raccoon feces.

Q2: What diseases are associated with raccoon feces?

A: Raccoon feces can harbor the Baylisascaris procyonis roundworm, potentially causing serious health issues if accidentally ingested. Larva migrans, affecting the brain and other organs, is a severe consequence of this parasitic infection.

Q3: Are raccoon-borne diseases treatable in humans?

A: While some raccoon-borne diseases may be treatable with prompt medical intervention, prevention is crucial. Seeking immediate medical attention if bitten or exposed and following prescribed treatments, such as post-exposure prophylaxis for rabies, can significantly improve outcomes.

Q4: Can raccoons spread diseases through their saliva?

A: Yes, raccoons can transmit diseases to humans through their saliva, primarily via bites or scratches. Rabies, a viral disease affecting the central nervous system, is a notable concern. Prompt medical attention is crucial if there is any suspicion of exposure to raccoon saliva to prevent the onset of serious symptoms.


Understanding the potential health risks associated with diseases transmitted by raccoons is paramount for fostering safe coexistence. Raccoons can carry diseases such as rabies, leptospirosis, and parasites like Baylisascaris procyonis. Vigilance, preventive measures, and responsible habits, such as securing trash bins and avoiding direct contact, play a crucial role in minimizing the risk of disease transmission. 

By prioritizing public health and adopting these practices, individuals can mitigate potential threats, ensuring a harmonious balance between urban living and the presence of these adaptable wildlife creatures.

About Tanya Garg 82 Articles
I'm Tanya, the dedicated raccoon enthusiast behind racoonpet.com. My mission is to share my knowledge about raccoons through insightful blogs, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for these intelligent creatures. Join me on a journey to learn more about raccoons, their behavior, and the importance of ensuring their safe relocation when necessary. Let's together create a world where raccoons and humans coexist harmoniously and safely.