Getting bit by a wildlife animal such as a raccoon, dog, or even bat can be scary. Very rarely does the bite itself cause much damage to the receiver. Instead the issue here is rabies, or any other infection. Knowing what to do will prepare you for potential encounters with violent/infected wildlife animals, and help you stay calm to take correct action.
What You Must Do If You're Bit by a Wildlife Animal
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the brain. It kills over fifty thousand people per year. Symptoms appear about 8 hours after getting bit, and humans usually die within a couple hours of symptoms beginning to appear. Lots of people in the USA and Canada will already be vaccinated from rabies, but you should still take corrective action in case you do get bit.
Raccoons especially tend to carry and transmit rabies. They are considered a "rabies vector species," meaning they are a particularly high-risk animals for spreading the disease. If you see a raccoon with discharge at the mouth, acting not-alert/dazed, or is staggering around, or acting in any weird way, you should call a wildlife expert immediately to handle the situation. Do NOT attempt to handle a rabid animal yourself- let the experts do it.
Raccoons & Rabies
Any animal can technically carry and transmit rabies. Raccoons are unfortunately one of the most likely. Some raccoons, if they feel threatened, may randomly bite people. This behavior is rare but it nonetheless happens often. Most of the time raccoons will run away and stay away, but some raccoons just act differently.
If you're not doing something stupid (ie. aggravating wildlife animals or attacking them) it is very rare you will get bit. In some cases though, people have been walking down the street and a raccoon bit them from under a bench. Don't live in fear- these situations are very rare statistically, don't do stupid things to wildlife animals and you'll most likely be fine.
Regardless if you see a wildlife animal acting strange or aggressive, call an expert immediately so s/he can prevent damage before it happens.
What To Do If You Get Bit
Getting bit by a wildlife animal can be scary. Remain calm and call 911 immediately. Let them know you were bitten by a wildlife animal, and need to get treated somewhere. The dispatcher will get a wildlife expert out there to handle the animal, and make sure you find your way to safety.
Usually what happens, even if you've been vaccinated, is you are taken to a vaccination center or emergency room. You will be given a tetanus shot as well as a rabies vaccination. There are several shots and they will be painful unfortunately, but it beats trying to tough out rabies. Only a few humans have been known to survive the disease rabies, so if you've been bit, go to the ER no matter what. Even if the wildlife animal wasn't displaying rabid signs, you should get treated. Sometimes rabies can be fresh in an animal's blood and not display symptoms, yet still be transmitted to you.
As long as you don't wait until symptoms appear and act quickly to get a vaccination, you will be fine. You may have a slight headache from all of the shots, and you will have to return for a couple more vaccination shots just in case, but you will recover fully.
Never Risk It
After symptoms of rabies begin appearing, death follows within 1-3 hours. This is not a statistic to play around with. If you or someone has been bit, get to the ER or a vaccination center immediately! It is very unlikely that the wildlife animal has rabies, but if it does it is very likely you will not survive without medication. Get treated, stay safe.
We hope you enjoyed this read and can find some value in it. Remember that wildlife "attacks" or "getting bitten" is rare, and if it ever happens you should dial 911 immediately.
-Wildlife X Team International