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PitRottMommy
PitRottMommy, Veterinary Nurse
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 7225
Experience:  15 yrs experience in vet med, 8 in emergency med. Founder of a non-profit animal rescue
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There are a bunch of racoons that come up onto the sidewalk

Customer Question

There are a bunch of racoons that come up onto the sidewalk (in a city) from a grassy area every night. People feed them, and they are usually very gentle about taking the offered food. However, tonight one got a alittle over anxious and in grabbing the food I offered he scratched me between my index and middle fingers. It bled a little, but as soon as I got home I washed my hand in antibacterial soap, then applied hydrogen peroxide, then merthiolate, then neosporin. Should I be worried? Should I go see a doctor? What should I do? Other than putting the food on the sidewalk instead of letting them take it out of my hand? Thanks.
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Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Pet
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
are there any danger signs I should be alert to? Any symptoms that all is not well?
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 1 year ago.

In this exchange was it was a nip from the mouth or a scratch from their paw?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Scratch from the paw.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 1 year ago.

In this case, the best resource to reach out to is going to be the Center for Disease Control. A scratch is much preferred over a bite in most cases, but there is still enough reason to be concerned as raccoons, skunks and other such animals can carry rabies in their saliva. I would expect that your risk of exposure is limited, but the CDC keeps detailed data on all exposure cases so they're going to be the ones you'd best speak with. This service is free and they will advise you on what to do: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/exposure/type.html

If you are lucky this time, make sure to eliminate all risk involved in the future for you not only being scratched but also bitten. The CDC plays it safe when it comes to many routes of exposure and the method of testing an animal for rabies to be sure a human has not been exposed routinely involves catching, euthanizing the animal and sending samples from the deceased's body (more information at the link above, although I will warn you it's rather gruesome and you may not wish to see it). We always become concerned about rabies when animals lose their fear of humans and begin to act the 'opposite' of what you'd expect from a wild animal. As nice as it is for you to leave food, which you could continue to do, you'll simply need to remove the risk of direct contact.

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