Toronto warning residents to avoid close contact with raccoons

By Charlene Close, Lucas Casaletto

A raccoon warning from the City of Toronto.

People are being told to avoid getting too close because there has been a significant increase in the number of sick and injured raccoons, and in the number of reported cases of bites and scratches.

The City says that means no feeding or petting them – or any other wild animals, for that matter.

Last year, Toronto Animal Services received nearly 14,000 service requests for sick and injured raccoons, compared to just over 4,000 the previous year.

Between January of last year and February of this year, Toronto Public Health (TPH) saw a 62 percent spike in reports of people bitten or scratched by them and while the risk of raccoon rabies is still low, the animals are considered to be a high-risk species.

TPH says to also keep an eye on your pets advising owners to supervise dogs and keep all pets away from wild animals.

“Dogs should not run loose in public spaces, except in off-leash parks,” the City says.

The most recent case of wildlife with rabies in Toronto was in 1997. No raccoons have tested positive for rabies since, TPH says.

If bitten, scratched, or exposed to a raccoon or other wild animal, residents should immediately wash the bite or wound with soap and water for at least 15 minutes, apply an antiseptic to the wound, and seek medical attention from a healthcare provider.

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