can you get rabies from handling birds eaten by racoons?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by whogroomer, Jul 13, 2010.

  1. whogroomer

    whogroomer Out Of The Brooder

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    My 3 year old son fell out of bed tonight around 3am. (He wiggles alot in his sleep) I got him settled back into his bed, and went to lay back down when I heard my hens peeping horribly outside on my porch. I went out to find the box I was raising my chicks in was broken into. It's a re-purposed lawn box, with lid, but I made a hardware cloth top for it. It's worked great, and there has been a few times it looked like something tried to get in but with no success. However tonight, as soon as I spotted the box was broken into... out pops a Raccoon. I immediately grabbed a stick I used to prop the original lid up with and beat the living daylights out of the Racoon. I hit the box and broke the stick. Went to get something more deadly.... and it got away.

    It had got to all 6 birds. . It had killed 4, and 2 were alive but half eaten. I put the 2 out of their misery, by wringing their necks. However I've never really been trained for that. They twitched uncontrollably for another min after i separated their heads from their bodies. At this point I feel the lowest I could feel, and I have no idea how to explain this to the kids. You see, whats even worse is that last thursday I lost 5 out of 6 of my original birds to the neighbors dog. Except this was in an outside run I made for them, but used a crappy PVC coop wire. Thats 11 dead birds in 5 days.

    After dispatching the birds I went in to wash my hands thoroughly and noticed I had given myself a slight scratch when the stick I used to beat the Racoon splintered on the side of the box. Nothing deep just a surface scratch.... no blood. Now I'm worried about Rabies and if I should go to a doctor. The raccoon didn't scratch me, I did, but I did handle the birds after his attack. The racoon didn't look crazy, it was actually kind of cute and gave me this sad look like..... "Why are you doing this to me?" as I was trying to beat him over the head with the stick. He didn't even growl or hiss.

    This is my first time trying to raise chickens... getting discouraged. I almost have my coop build. I just wanted to re-enforce the doors better before leaving my hens in overnight. Do you think I should worry about rabies? I'm kind of not worried about it, but thought I would ask those with more experience with such things. I'll probably call the doctor in the morning anyways and ask just to be sure.
     
  2. crazy chook

    crazy chook Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So sorry for your loss. [​IMG]
     
  3. chickensioux

    chickensioux Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think anytime you are handling any animal alive or dead you need to take every precaution necessary (gloves, etc.) if rabies is suspected. It is my understanding that once an animal is dead the virus dies too but I would never want to challenge that. Be careful.

    So sorry for all of your losses.
     
  4. burquechick

    burquechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Based on your description, I seriously doubt that you got rabies, but you definitely need to see a doctor. If you came in contact with rabies it would have been through the racoon's saliva that was on the baby birds. Rabies is an enveloped virus, so it doesn't live that long outside its host, but you were right there when the raccoon was, so you would have come in contact with live virus if there was any. Which brings me to, if there was any. I don't think it's very likely since the raccoon was acting normally in your description. Infected animals are usually overly aggressive, but it should be noted that not all infectious animals are showing symptoms yet. But see what the doctor says, he will know about incidence and prevalence in your area.
     
  5. Mark & Nique

    Mark & Nique Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I doubt that raccoon had rabies -- if it did, it would have come after you and not run. Still, you need to 1st, visit the doctor. 2nd, come up with a secure way to take care of your peeps! (1/2 inch galvanized steel wire mesh, please!)
     
  6. whogroomer

    whogroomer Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2010
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    I used a 1/4 in mesh, but didn't have it secured as well as I had been. I had a leaky faucet behind a wall that had me preoccupied. So I quickly put chicks back in the brooder this evening. I'm not giving up, this is war!

    I will have both my brooder and coop as secure as Ft Knox, before the new chicks arrive.

    I think the odds I got rabies from a scratch not directly from the raccon are pretty high, but I'm going to try to talk to a doctor to be sure, if he would call me back [​IMG]

    My daughter took it better than me, and upon the news starting thinking of ideas to scare away predators. Including the use of one of those motion activated Halloween spooks to scare them off. Shes only 5 and such a creative thinker.
     
  7. Stonerowfarm

    Stonerowfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You should definitely check with your doctor. Last year I beat a raccoon with my bare hands after she killed one of my hens. I had open areas on my hands and was beating her all about the body. My husband had to dispatch the hen and like me, he also had open wounds on his hands (from working around the farm, not from the hen). Doctors here told me that under no circumstance should I ignore this and to get the rabies series "immediately." We live in an area with high rabies incident, both dumb and furious rabies.

    As far as the length of time rabies 'lives' in an animal. Rabies is still an active virus until approximately 72 hours after death (possibly longer in the spine and brain matter). If the animal is frozen, the virus stays active until 72 after it has completely thawed. (We had an animal control officer improperly dispose of rabid skunk over the banking towards the creek in February and I had to dispose of it to keep the spread of rabies down.)

    Best to be safe in these matters. As a doctor told me last year, there's not do-over with rabies. It's basically done.

    Sorry about your chicks. Hopefully the next batch will thrive and grow into big beautiful hens for you.
     
  8. whogroomer

    whogroomer Out Of The Brooder

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    I ended up going to a doctor outside my county, actually it was a walk in urgent care clinic near work. They offered me a bandade and a call to the putnam county health department.. rabies division. After an interview with the nice person from the rabies division. They determined that it is not likely that I would of contracted it.
     
  9. burquechick

    burquechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Whew! Didn't think so, but I'm certainly glad they didn't either. Rabies treatment sux! [​IMG]
     
  10. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Sorry for your losses. As far as what to tell your kids, be matter of fact, not overly emotional and tell them the truth - they'll be fine. Kids are quite resilient. We live on a farm and have lost many animals over the years. My kids always took it better than I expected. They may be sad for a bit, but they'll come around. After reading further, I see that you already told them. Good. Honesty is the best policy.
     

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