When faced with a raccoon bite, knowing the immediate steps to take right after is crucial for your safety and well-being.
In this guide, we’ll outline the essential actions to ensure a prompt and effective response to a raccoon bite, prioritizing your health and safety.
What to Do if a Raccoon Bites You
If you are bitten by a raccoon, it is crucial to take immediate steps to reduce the risk of infection. Here are some steps to follow right after the incident:
- Wash the wound: Use mild soap and warm, running water to cleanse the wound for a duration of 3 to 5 minutes.
- Apply pressure: If the wound is bleeding, apply direct pressure with a clean, dry cloth or bandage until the bleeding stops.
- Apply an antibacterial ointment: Applying an antibacterial ointment may help reduce the risk of infection.
- Cover the wound: Cover the wound with a dry, sterile bandage or dressing.
- Seek medical attention: Due to the risk of infection, it is essential to consult a healthcare provider within 24 hours for any bite that breaks the skin. In cases where the bite occurs on the neck, head, face, hand, fingers, or feet, promptly contact your healthcare provider. Administering a rabies shot immediately after the bite can protect you from the disease.
Additionally, it is vital to refrain from provoking or teasing animals and to stay away from animals that exhibit unusual or aggressive behavior, as they may be carriers of rabies.
For more information you can consult our full guide on ‘How to get rid of Raccoons.’
What Are the Symptoms of a Raccoon Bite
If you have suffered a raccoon bite, it is crucial to be vigilant about the symptoms of rabies. Rabies is a viral infection that can be transmitted through the saliva of infected animals, including raccoons. These symptoms may manifest anywhere from a few days to over a year after the bite.
At the outset, rabies symptoms can mimic the flu, characterized by weakness, discomfort, fever, or headache. You may also experience discomfort, prickling, or itching at the bite site, which can persist for days.
Subsequently, symptoms progress to cerebral dysfunction, leading to anxiety, confusion, and agitation. Further progression of the disease may entail delirium, aberrant behavior, hallucinations, hydrophobia (fear of water), and insomnia.
In the event of a raccoon bite, it is imperative to promptly seek medical attention within 24 hours for any skin-penetrating wound.
What Is the Risk of Rabies from a Raccoon Bite
Raccoons are among the most frequently rabies-infected terrestrial animals in the United States. When bitten by a raccoon, there exists a risk of contracting rabies, a fatal yet preventable viral disease that can be transmitted to humans and pets through bites or scratches from a rabid animal.
In the United States, rabies is predominantly found in wildlife such as bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Failing to receive appropriate medical care following potential rabies exposure can lead to the virus causing brain disease, ultimately resulting in fatality.
Seeking medical attention within 24 hours for any skin-penetrating bite is crucial, irrespective of its apparent size or significance, as the raccoon may carry rabies.
Prompt medical attention is essential because effective post-exposure treatment is available in the event of a rabid raccoon bite.
How Soon after a Raccoon Bite Should You Seek Medical Attention
In the event of a raccoon bite, it is imperative to promptly seek medical attention within 24 hours for any skin-penetrating wound. Seeking medical assistance without delay can significantly lower the risk of infection and the potential contraction of rabies.
Special attention should be given to bites located on the face, hands, or feet, as well as bites that result in deeper puncture wounds of the skin. In these cases, seeking immediate medical attention is especially crucial.
What Is the Cost of Treatment for a Raccoon Bite
The cost of treating a raccoon bite can vary significantly depending on factors such as the bite’s severity, location, and the required type of treatment. Here are some examples illustrating the expenses associated with treating a raccoon bite:
- Public health expenditures for rabies disease diagnostics, prevention, and control in the US range from $245 to $510 million annually.
- The cost of rabies treatment in the United States can vary widely, spanning from $280 to $9,912, contingent on the healthcare facility you visit.
- In some areas, the initial treatment alone can surpass $15,000, resulting in substantial medical bills for patients.
- Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis, the primary treatment to prevent rabies infection, is recommended for anyone bitten by a raccoon. The cost of this treatment can fluctuate, but it typically averages around $3,000. However, it’s important to note that hospitals have the discretion to set their own prices for treatment.
- The cost of the rabies immune globulin injection alone can be quite high, exemplified by a patient who was billed $46,422 for the injection after being bitten by a cat.
It is imperative to seek immediate medical attention following a raccoon bite to minimize the risk of infection and the potential contraction of rabies.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Rabies Treatment after a Raccoon Bite
The cost of rabies treatment following a raccoon bite can fluctuate based on the required treatment and the healthcare provider you choose. Here are some important considerations:
- Some insurance plans provide coverage for rabies vaccines and globulins for both pre-exposure and post-exposure to the rabies virus.
- The expense of rabies treatment can vary widely, spanning from $280 to $9,912, contingent on your choice of healthcare facility.
- Notably, the cost of the rabies immune globulin injection alone can be exceedingly high, as exemplified by a patient who incurred a $46,422 bill for the injection after being bitten by a cat.
- The cost of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for rabies may differ, but it typically averages around $3,000.
To ensure clarity about coverage and costs, it’s essential to consult both your healthcare provider and insurance company. Promptly seeking medical attention following a raccoon bite is crucial to minimize the risk of infection and the potential contraction of rabies.
How to Stop a Raccoon From Biting
Raccoons are wild animals known for their unpredictability, so it is vital to maintain a safe distance and avoid confrontations. Here are steps you can take to prevent raccoon bites:
- Do not initiate contact: Avoid approaching or attempting to touch raccoons, and refrain from feeding them or providing nesting opportunities.
- Maintain a safe distance: Given their unpredictable nature, it is essential to keep a reasonable distance from raccoons.
- Wear protective clothing: If you must interact with raccoons, wear thick clothing and gloves to shield yourself from potential scratches and bites.
- Secure your trash: Raccoons are attracted to food, so ensure your trash cans and compost bins are securely closed.
- Avoid feeding pets outside: If you need to feed your pets outdoors, promptly remove their food once they have finished.
- Block home access: Raccoons can enter homes through pet doors, so take measures to prevent their access.
- Practice prevention: Educate yourself on how raccoon-related issues develop and proactively implement preventive measures to avoid conflicts.
- Contact a wildlife professional: If you encounter a raccoon displaying aggressive behavior or signs of illness, seek assistance from a wildlife professional.