How Do Dead Animals Spread Diseases?

When dealing with a nuisance wild animal on our property, we typically think of getting attacked, toxic droppings, and of course, the potential damage they might do to our property. We rarely consider the dangers of a dead animal around our home, and yet, that’s quite a common occurrence that dead animal removal companies such as Nuisance Wildlife Rangers encounter on a regular basis.

Nuisance wildlife might get into an altercation with another predator, or already be diseased when it finds its way into our garden or home. It’s important that you educate yourself on dead animals, to keep yourself and your family safe from the dangers they might expose you to.

Are dead animals dangerous?

The short answer is yes, dead animal carcasses are just as dangerous as live animals. The truth is, by far the biggest threat of a nuisance wild animal (like a raccoon, squirrel, etc.) isn’t an outright attack, but rather contamination with the many diseases that animal carries. And unfortunately, that risk remains, even when the animal has died.

Dead animal carcasses most often transmit diseases through direct contact, which is why it’s paramount that, if you’ve discovered a dead animal on your property, you do not touch it. If you have children and/or pets, make sure you keep them away from the dead animal, also. Direct contact with a dead animal can very rapidly cause a serious and even fatal illness.

How do dead animals transmit diseases?

Well, the first and most obvious way a dead animal can transmit disease is through direct contact. If you touch a diseased animal directly, and then touch your eyes, nose, mouth, or an open wound on your body, then the bacteria can enter your system, and you are now contaminated.

For pets, the danger is even greater, since naturally curious pets will often try to “play around” with a dead animal, maybe even consuming some part of it. Now obviously, if the animal was diseased before it died, that disease will now have been passed on to your pet, and if your pet wasn’t properly vaccinated against the illness, then you may be in serious trouble. 

Yet another way in which dead animal diseases can become a problem is during the decomposing process. Once an animal’s body starts to decompose, all the diseases that the animal had previous to death will be released, and become airborne. Thus, if you have a dead animal on your property, yet don’t touch it, or come into direct contact with it, you may still be exposing yourself to serious illness.

In other words, a dead animal on your property is no joke, and should not be treated as one. On the contrary, if you so much as suspect that a wild animal has died on your property, we suggest contacting a wildlife removal professional immediately. Otherwise, you risk exposing yourself, your family, and your pets to serious illness.

Not only will a professional wildlife removal team ensure that the carcass is speedily removed, but they will also thoroughly cleanse and disinfect the contaminated area, to ensure there is no lingering threat to your wellbeing.

What diseases do dead animals spread?

Now that we’ve seen how a dead animal carcass might be a threat to your health, let’s take a moment to talk about the different illnesses you might be exposing yourself to, by being near a dead animal.

Rabies

By far the most well-known and common disease that wild animals (dead or alive) can spread is rabies, which is a very serious illness that, if not treated in time, will inevitably result in death. On the bright side, rabies actually survives very little on a dead body, namely until the animal’s saliva dries up. Once there is no more saliva, rabies most likely won’t be a threat (though it may still be a concern if your pet has bitten or consumed some of the dead animal).

Tularemia

Caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis, tularemia is a common illness that humans may contract when coming into contact with a dead animal carcass. Tularemia is commonly characterized by swollen glands, ulcers, difficulty breathing, and chest pain, and its symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening.

Leptospirosis

Also known as Weil’s Disease, leptospirosis is thankfully a rare disease, though not impossible to contract. It will typically involve high fever, vomiting, bleeding, and muscle pain. Left untreated, it can lead to liver and kidney failure, and subsequently death.

Of course, there are numerous other diseases you might get through direct contact with a dead animal carcass, ones you can learn more about if you visit deadanimal.org. If dealing with a dead carcass on your property, do yourself a favor, and keep your distance. There are professionals trained for this kind of situation – so why should you risk it?