Winter is forcing animals to look for food and shelter – and some find both on your property. Do you know what’s lurking in your back yard? Raccoons may look furry and cute, but they are no joke when you are forced to share living space with them. Read on to learn about the dangers raccoons carry and find out tips from our consultants about the remedies that keep raccoons away.
Why is raccoon contamination an issue?
Raccoons are habitual creatures and tend to defecate repeatedly in the same spot, known as a latrine. According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), common locations where raccoon latrines may be found are the base and forks of trees, raised horizontal surfaces (e.g., fallen logs, stumps, woodpiles or large rocks), decks or patios, attics and garages. These areas may pose a hazard to human health because raccoons are carriers of a parasite called Baylisascaris procyonis, also known as raccoon roundworm, which are excreted in their fecal matter. This parasite is not harmful to raccoons, but may be hazardous or even fatal to humans. The incubation period for eggs to become infectious is approximately 2-4 weeks, so rapid removal and disinfection of the affected areas is will lessen the risk for exposure and infection. The primary route of infection in humans is via ingestion. The risk of infection in humans is generally very low, but young children or developmentally-disabled persons are at greater risk of ingesting affected materials.
How to prevent raccoons from using a latrine site
The Toronto Wildlife Centre has some helpful tips to deter these furry bandits from using a specific latrine site:
- If the latrine is on a deck or patio, simply move or add some furniture or furnishings (e.g., planters). Remember – they are creatures of habit, so they don’t do well with change and will likely find another spot.
- Lay down a double layer of plastic sheeting over the latrine site. Raccoons have sensitive paws, and generally do not like the sensation of walking over the double layer of plastic. They will likely move on within a couple of weeks.
- For latrine sites on lawns and gardens, soak the area with water so that it becomes wet and muddy. Also, a motion activated sprinkler in the vicinity will assist in deterring raccoons from using the site.
How to remediate raccoon contamination
At this time, there are no legally enforceable standards that specifically deals with microbiological standards or procedures for removing raccoon feces. However, the Occupational Health and Safety Act general duty clause applies to all work environments. It is prudent to use strict health and safety precautions and engineering controls for the remediation of raccoon contaminated areas in order to contain contaminants. Such recommended safety precautions are similar to those used for in mould remediation, and should be provided by a qualified environmental consultant.
Although it is recommended that raccoon contaminated areas be abated by a professional environmental contractor, if you happen to inadvertently have contact with raccoon feces, remember to wash skin well with soap and warm water and launder clothes with hot water and detergent immediately after contact occurs. The CDC and Toronto Wildlife centre also provide suggestion on best practices for cleaning procedures.
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Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM)is a leading Canadian environmental consulting firm in the fields of environmental services, hazardous materials management, industrial hygiene, and occupational health and safety. Our professional staff serve a wide range of clientele including commercial, government, industrial institutional, and residential. We are passionate about health & safety and committed to excellence. For more than 35 years, we continue to provide high quality services, taking pride in building long-term relationships with our clients. We are dedicated to understanding your concerns and meeting your needs by delivering efficient, cost-effective solutions.
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