Raccoon and vegetables -- worried for rabies

juliedesjAugust 9, 2010

Hi there!

Just a quick question, in hope that someone knows enough about rabies to answer it:

Would it be possible to catch rabies from eating the vegetables in my garden if a raccoon has been in the garden?

I figured we had a visitor a while ago as I found my beans and my cucumber plants decapitated one morning, and the lid of my compost bin often ends up on the ground.

I was thinking of a groundhog (although now that I think of it, I don't think a groundhog would have been able to lift the lid of my compost bin), but we found out it was a raccoon last week, as it managed to lock itself in our garbage bin.

I know that rabies if mainly transmitted through biting, or a cut coming in contact with the saliva from an infected animal (or getting that saliva in touch with the mouth, the nose or the eyes). I also know that the virus doesn't live for very long outside of its host. But I couldn't find the answer as to whether it can be contracted by eating vegetables or fruits that may have been in contact with the animal's saliva.

I'm guessing if that was the case there would be a lot more cases of human rabies, as raccoons in a garden are a very frequent problem, but I'm still a little bit worried as we DID eat some of our garden's veggies.

The animal didn't have an unusual behavior when we released it. It ran away from us, and came back to the backyard where my husband and daughter were playing 5 minutes later, but didn't seem aggressive. I *think* he actually lives under our shed, and that's why he was back after a few minutes (it was daytime so I'm guessing he went back to his home).

If anyone has an answer to this, I would really appreciate hearing it!

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Rabies virus won't live outside the body for more than a few seconds. Your greatest threat would be to have a rabid animal around, because their danger response is affected so they lose their fear of people and they are liable to attack.

Check out the link below

Here is a link that might be useful: Rabies virus

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 11:01PM
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All you need to do is to consult the Center for Disease Control for information on infectious diseases. Direct contact with the saliva or body matters is what transmit this disease.

One thing about raccoons though. they carry a kind of microscopic worm in their feces. I worried about this because once the feces dries up the eggs may spread and get ingested. There was a case in Toronto of a child that went blind because the raccoons used a public sandbox as it's litterbox and the child got infected while playing in that sand box. So when I had a pesky racoon in my yard, I took extra effort to disinfect where it did it's business (which was on my fence and the roof of my shed).

So if there are more than one racoon in your area causing havoc - best take measures to prevent them getting into your garbage or compost. In my house, I had actually set up a shed for both the garbage and the green compost. Even then, the sneaky devils managed to find a way to pry the door open, but we fixed that. Inside the shed, we took additional measures to make it difficult for the raccoons to open the lids of the containers.

Get a pest company to remove the animal. We had one that eventually found itself in our roof and made a nest there. A pest company had to deal with that.

One pest company suggested leaving ammonia soaked rags to deter the creatures but it's smelly and you need to repeatedly wet the rag.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 11:11AM
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Thank you for your answers! I am reassured.

We have taken measures so that the raccoon can't get into our garbage bin again. As for the compost, I need to figure something out, but it hasn't been back for a couple of nights.

We are on the waiting list from the city's pest removal company for a cage to catch the raccoon. They told me to try the ammonia trick, but I'm not a big fan for the reasons you mentioned. However, I also read that moth balls seem to work; I'll try that one in the meantime.

I only found poop once -- on our recycle bin, that was standing right next to our garbage bin... that was the day before we found the raccoon in our trash, so it leads me to believe it climbed on the recycle bin to open the garbage bin and fell into. The bin was almost empty, and it's pretty high, so the raccoon wasn't able to pop the lid back open. My neighbour said he heard thumping all night and even went to check in HIS trash can if a raccoon might have been caught in there.

I do have a young child, though, so I'm not crazy at the idea of having that thing around. Hopefully we can catch it soon.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 7:07PM
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Since you have a child, I would suggest putting those mothballs in old stockings or socks -otherwise it might be mistaken for candies.

I've used all kinds of things to deal with unwanted creatures. Because of the recyling box and a compost heap, I also had problems with mice -- so for additional measures I've put mice baits set in proper containers to lure away these things before they enter my home. I once used sticky paper but then I had to deal with mice trapped in the stuff and I don't want to have that experience again..

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 11:29AM
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another reason to be wary about raccoon feces.

Here is a link that might be useful: Worm eats man's retina

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 3:06PM
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