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An Ounce of Prevention: Keeps the Germs Away
 Wild Animals  
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 Avoid contact with wild animals

Basically, you and your pets need to avoid contact with rodents and other wild animals because they can carry some very deadly diseases. For example:
  • Rodents can transmit hantavirus and plague.
  • Ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease.
  • Mammals such as raccoons, skunks, and foxes can transmit rabies. In fact, bats cause most of the human rabies cases in this country.

When are most wild animals active?
Most wild animals come out at night and are afraid of people. So, if you see a wild animal during the day, you should avoid having contact with it and notify animal control authorities because it may have rabies.

How can you discourage animals from nesting in your house?

  • Keep your home clean.
  • At night when insects, rodents and other animals search for food, keep tight-fitting lids on food containers and on the garbage containers.
  • Discard any excess food and take up pet water bowls when not in use.

How can you discourage animals from entering your house?
The closer wild animals live to your house, the more likely they are to find a way inside.

  • Eliminate any possible nesting sites and items that provide a water source.
  • Seal entrances on the inside and the outside of your home because a mouse can squeeze through an opening as small as a dime.
  • One pair of mice can produce over 15,000 offspring a year. You can keep rodent populations low by continually setting traps inside and outside your home.
  • Keep baits and traps out of reach of children and pets.
  • Natural predators also help control rodent populations in the wild.

What should you do if you find a dead animal?

  • If you find a dead animal, spray it and any nesting materials with disinfectant before moving it. This reduces the risk of exposure to deadly viruses.
  • Use protective measures when moving the carcass and dispose of the animal according to local regulations.
  • Remember to wash your hands afterwards.
  • If your home is infested with rodents, contact animal control authorities.

What precautions should you take against ticks and mosquitos?

In wooded areas and high grass, take extra precautions against ticks and mosquitos.
  • It helps to wear light-colored clothing that covers as much exposed skin as possible.
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET.
  • Carefully check yourself and your family for ticks. Use tweezers to remove them.

What should you do if you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal?

  • Apply first aid treatment as quickly as possible, and
  • Immediately notify your health care provider.

Wild animals can carry fatal diseases and we have to keep them out of our homes. But we also need to take certain precautions with those endearing pets that we enjoy close at hand.

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This page last reviewed April 5, 2000

Division of Quarantine
National Center for Infectious Diseases
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