Chances are you have never given raccoon urine a second thought, let alone considered the question of its risks. Sure you probably would avoid raccoon urine because, it’s urine. But grossness of urine aside, we should avoid raccoon urine because it can harbor a bacteria that causes a disease called leptospirosis.
How You Contract Leptospirosis
People typically contract the disease through direct contact with contaminated urine or contact with contaminated water or soil. Since most people will avoid raccoon urine, most exposures occur through exposure to contaminated materials. For example, consider raccoons living under a deck or in an attic. A repair person enters the crawl space or attic without proper personal protective equipment. As he crawls, micro-abrasions on the skin contact contaminated material thereby introducing bacteria into the body. If the exposure is more than what his immune system can fight off, then anywhere between 2 days or 4 weeks, he will get sick.
Symptoms of Leptospirosis
In the early progression of the disease, the symptoms of leptospirosis are rather vague and may be interpreted as having “the Flu.” Body aches, fever, head ache, chills, diarrhea, vomiting and others are common symptoms. Keep in mind, that exposure to the bacteria does not necessarily result in infection. Sometimes, the body fights off the infection. Victims may feel poorly but since they recover, they likely think they were exposed to something else.
Treatment of Leptospirosis
Fortunately, antibiotics can treat the disease. But treatment should not be delayed. Approximately 10% of victims develop a severe and life-threatening infection. Some people have died.
Get trained in the use of personal protective equipment and wear it before entering areas where raccoons have been living. Tell family members and your doctor that you have worked in areas where raccoons have been present. One more thing, raccoons are not the only animal that can shed leptospira bacteria. So treat all wildlife as potentially hazardous. Enjoy them at a distance and avoid their poo and urine.
To learn more about leptospirosis visit the Centers for Disease ControlStephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACE, is the owner of Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. He helps people restore their balance with nature through publishing, training, consulting, and the internet. He has published numerous articles in trade and academic publications (http://kingsdivinity.academia.edu/StephenMVantassel) along with several books (https://wildlifecontrolconsultant.com/store-2/). Listen to his podcast at PestGeek Podcast (https://pestgeekpodcast.com/). He is a sought after speaker and trainer. If you would like to have Stephen speak at your event or use his consultation services, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.