Can Humans Get Distemper From Raccoons?

Can Humans Get Distemper From Raccoons? featured image

Have you ever wondered if humans can get sick from raccoons? Well, today we are going to find out the answer to this interesting question! Raccoons are cute and curious animals that often live near us. They have a disease called distemper, which affects their bodies and makes them feel unwell. But can this disease be passed on to humans?

The good news is that humans cannot directly catch distemper from raccoons. Yay! Distemper is a type of illness that only affects animals, like raccoons, dogs, and ferrets. It cannot make humans sick. However, it’s important to remember that raccoons can carry other diseases, like rabies, which can be dangerous for us. So, even though raccoons may look friendly, it’s best to keep a safe distance and avoid touching them.

What is Distemper?

Definition and characteristics of distemper

Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that affects animals, particularly dogs and raccoons. It is caused by the canine distemper virus (CDV) and can lead to serious health complications if left untreated.

Common symptoms in animals

Animals infected with distemper may exhibit a range of symptoms, including fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, loss of appetite, lethargy, and neurological problems such as seizures or twitching.

How distemper spreads among animals

Distemper spreads through direct contact with an infected animal’s bodily fluids, such as saliva, urine, or respiratory secretions. It can also be transmitted indirectly through contaminated objects or surfaces. Young animals, those with weak immune systems, and unvaccinated pets are particularly susceptible to contracting distemper.

Related Article:Can Dogs Get Distemper From Raccoons?

Distemper in Raccoons

Prevalence of distemper in raccoons

Raccoons are susceptible to distemper, a highly contagious viral disease. It is important to note that distemper is primarily a disease that affects animals, and raccoons are one of the most commonly affected species. While distemper is more prevalent in raccoons, it can also affect other animals such as dogs, foxes, and skunks.

Signs and symptoms of distemper in raccoons

Distemper can cause a variety of symptoms in raccoons. Some common signs to look out for include:

1. Discharge from the eyes and nose
2. Coughing and sneezing
3. Fever
4. Loss of appetite
5. Lethargy and weakness
6. Seizures and tremors

It’s important to remember that these symptoms can vary depending on the individual raccoon and the stage of the disease. If you notice any of these signs in a raccoon, it’s best to keep your distance and contact a professional wildlife control service for assistance.

How distemper affects raccoons’ behavior and appearance

Distemper can have a significant impact on a raccoon’s behavior and appearance. Infected raccoons may exhibit unusual behavior, such as wandering aimlessly during the daytime or approaching humans without fear. They may also have difficulty walking or appear disoriented. Additionally, infected raccoons may have crusty or swollen eyes, nasal discharge, and a rough coat.

If you encounter a raccoon displaying these symptoms, it’s crucial to avoid any direct contact and seek professional help. Remember, raccoons with distemper are more likely to be aggressive and unpredictable, so it’s best to leave the handling to the experts.

Related Article:Can Cats Get Distemper From Raccoons?

Transmission of Distemper to Humans

Likelihood of humans contracting distemper from raccoons

Now, let’s address the burning question on everyone’s mind: Can humans actually get distemper from raccoons? The short answer is, it’s highly unlikely. Distemper is primarily a disease that affects animals, especially domestic pets like dogs and ferrets. While it’s true that raccoons can carry and transmit distemper, the chances of them passing it on to humans are extremely low.

Factors that increase the risk of transmission

However, there are a few factors that might slightly increase the risk of transmission. If you have a weakened immune system, such as from a pre-existing health condition or medication, you may be more susceptible to contracting distemper. Additionally, individuals who come into close contact with infected raccoons, such as wildlife rehabilitators or animal control officers, may have a slightly higher risk of transmission.

Methods of transmission from raccoons to humans

So, how exactly could distemper be transmitted from raccoons to humans? Well, the most common way would be through direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected raccoon. This can happen if you’re handling a sick or dead raccoon without proper protection, or if you come into contact with their urine, feces, or saliva. It’s important to note that distemper is not an airborne disease, so you don’t have to worry about catching it just by breathing the same air as a raccoon.

That being said, it’s always a good idea to take precautions when dealing with raccoons or any wildlife. Avoid touching or handling raccoons, especially if they appear sick or exhibit unusual behavior. If you do need to handle a raccoon, make sure to wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Preventive Measures

Vaccination for pets and domestic animals

One of the most important steps in preventing distemper is ensuring that your pets and domestic animals are properly vaccinated. Distemper vaccines are readily available and can be administered by your veterinarian. It’s important to stay up to date with your pet’s vaccinations to protect them from this potentially deadly disease.

Tips for minimizing contact with raccoons

While raccoons can be fascinating creatures to observe from a distance, it’s best to minimize direct contact with them. Raccoons can carry various diseases, including distemper, so it’s important to take precautions. Here are a few tips:

1. Secure your trash cans: Raccoons are known for their scavenging habits, so make sure your trash cans are securely sealed to prevent them from becoming a food source.

Related Article:How Do Raccoons Get Distemper

2. Keep food sources out of reach: If you have outdoor pets or regularly feed wildlife, make sure to keep their food and water bowls inside or in an area that is inaccessible to raccoons.

3. Seal off potential entry points: Raccoons are notorious for finding their way into attics, crawl spaces, and other areas of your home. Seal off any potential entry points such as gaps in your roof, vents, or holes in your walls.

Proper sanitation practices to prevent distemper transmission

Maintaining good sanitation practices can also help reduce the risk of distemper transmission. Here are a few simple steps you can take:

1. Clean up pet waste promptly: Whether it’s in your backyard or on a walk, be sure to clean up after your pets to prevent the spread of diseases.

2. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces: If you suspect that a raccoon may have been in contact with surfaces such as doorknobs, handles, or outdoor furniture, it’s a good idea to disinfect them regularly.

3. Wash your hands: Just like with any potential disease transmission, practicing good hand hygiene is essential. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after any potential contact with raccoons or their habitat.

Related Article:What Do Raccoons Do To Humans

Remember, taking these preventive measures can greatly reduce the risk of distemper transmission not only to humans but also to your beloved pets and domestic animals. Stay informed and take the necessary steps to keep everyone safe and healthy.


Can humans get distemper from raccoons?

Yes, humans can get distemper from raccoons. Although it is rare, the distemper virus can cross species barriers and infect humans. However, such cases are extremely uncommon and usually occur in individuals with compromised immune systems.

What are the symptoms of distemper in raccoons?

The symptoms of distemper in raccoons can vary, but commonly include respiratory issues, nasal and ocular discharge, lethargy, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and neurologic signs such as seizures and muscle tremors. If you suspect a raccoon is infected with distemper, it is best to contact local wildlife authorities for assistance.

How can I protect myself from distemper when dealing with raccoons?

To protect yourself from distemper when dealing with raccoons, it is important to avoid direct contact with the animals. Wear gloves and protective clothing when handling raccoons or any potentially infected materials such as feces or bedding. It is also advisable to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after any potential exposure to raccoon-related materials.


In conclusion, while it is possible for humans to contract distemper from raccoons, the likelihood is relatively low. Distemper primarily affects animals, particularly raccoons, and is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids or contaminated environments. It is important for pet owners and those living in areas with a high raccoon population to be aware of the risks and take preventive measures.

Vaccinating pets and domestic animals against distemper is crucial in reducing the spread of the disease. Additionally, minimizing contact with raccoons and practicing proper sanitation can greatly reduce the risk of transmission. Regularly cleaning and disinfecting areas where raccoons may frequent, such as garbage cans or outdoor pet areas, is essential.

If exposed to a raccoon with distemper, it is important to seek medical attention promptly. While there is no specific treatment for distemper in humans, healthcare professionals can provide supportive care to manage symptoms and prevent complications.

Related Article:Can Raccoons Get High?

It is also important to note that raccoons can transmit other diseases to humans, such as rabies and leptospirosis. Understanding the risks associated with raccoon interactions and taking necessary precautions can help prevent the spread of these diseases.

In conclusion, being informed about distemper and raccoons’ role in its transmission is crucial for the well-being of both animals and humans. If you suspect a raccoon may have distemper or have been exposed to one, it is recommended to contact a professional wildlife control service or local animal control agency for assistance.

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