Ever since my years in grade school, the most important survival tactic I learned from my strict authority figures, I mean school teachers, was to stay away from diurnal raccoons. It is because of them that I was misinformed for many years that raccoons found wandering during the day are most likely rabid. That is until I finally researched the behavior myself and discovered that it was fully debunked. Raccoons that are seen during the day are more than likely not a concern for this hazardous zoonotic disease. However, if you come across a day walker that is exhibiting abnormal behavior, then that is a cause for concern.
Raccoons are one of the main organisms that is considered a vector, or carrier, for the rabies virus. Encountering abnormal behavior is a red flag for any potential diseases. More specifically, abnormal behavior exhibited by a rabid raccoon can be noticed when it cannot control its movements. Uncontrolled and sporadic movements are caused by the disease taking over the nervous system. Other symptoms listed in an article by The Humane Society include unresponsiveness to noise, excessive saliva or discharge from eyes, wet and matted facial area, high pitched vocalization, and self mutilation. Rabid raccoons may never be seen eating nor drinking due to the inability to ingest from involuntary muscle spasms also affecting peristalsis. This is also the reason why they salivate abundantly. Other symptoms include random and aggressive attacks by these creatures. It is advisable to stay away from them as far as possible and contact Animal Control immediately.
One of the ways to protect yourself is to get your rabies vaccinations. It is not a fun experience at all; as a matter of fact, you will feel like you were punched in the arm. But aside from that, the fact of knowing that you are protected from this debilitating disease will wash your pain and tears away. However, this does not mean that you can go up to a random, sickly raccoon and care for it by wiping its drool off its face.
If you have never had your rabies vaccination and was bitten, you still have a chance to receive treatment as long as you are asymptomatic. However, once symptoms begin to show, you are too late. At this point, it will be time to begin thinking about your possible funeral. If you end up reaching the late stages of the disease, symptoms will begin to show. According to Mayo Clinic, these include fever, agitation, and confusion. Then you will experience difficulty swallowing, hydrophobia, excessive salivation, insomnia, and partial paralysis. At the final stage, you will go through a coma which will lead to your death.