Worms and Germs Blog

Keep the 'wild' in 'wildlife'

Sixteen people in South Carolina are undergoing rabies post-exposure treatment after having contact with a rabid baby raccoon. Additionally, 20 of their pets are undergoing quarantine.

Wildlife should be left in the wild. While some wild animals, especially babies, are hard to resist, little good usually comes from intervention of the general public. This is particularly true when well meaning people ‘rescue’ baby wildlife. Often, ‘orphaned’ wildlife are not orphans; the parents are hiding nearby and would have returned. Few animal facilities are properly equipped or licensed to properly deal with wildlife, and these ‘rescued’ orphans often end up being euthanized. Some people try to nurse these animals themselves but few can do it properly. It’s also illegal in many areas. Add that to the obvious risk of rabies, as highlighted here, and it should be clear that wildlife should be left alone. It’s also a good reminder of the need to vaccinate your pets because rabies exposure can occur in many different ways. The pets in this situation are reportedly under 45 day quarantine, which is certainly not something you want to do, but is much better than what would happen in many jurisdictions in the case of rabies exposure of an unvaccinated pet (long strict quarantine or euthanasia).

Baby raccoons are very cute and hard to resist, but like many other forms of temptation, danger, in this case in the form of infectious diseases, can lurk just around the corner. More information on rabies is available in our Resources section. 
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Published by University of Guelph Centre for Public Health & Zoonoses Ontario Veterinary College
University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario, N1G2W1, Canada.