Raccoons, Rabies & Decapitation
Raccoon head being tested for rabies in Richmond, Virginia. Original post from 2005.
"When it is necessary to remove the head of a rabies-suspect cadaver, our decapitation Guillotine does the job safely, cleanly, and easily. Features a screw-type mechanism that slowly lowers a cutting blade. Opening is 10"Wx14"H. Heavy steel construction then powder-coated. This is the only guillotine we know of that assures complete operator safety and gets the job done right."
One of the things animal control officers are warned about rabid raccoons is that "Regardless of who does the shooting, it is critical NOT TO SHOOT THE ANIMAL IN THE HEAD, as the rabies virus is concentrated in the brain tissue."
Uh, OK, but if the damn thing is charging can we shoot it in the head anyway?
If you are ever bitten by a raccoon, fox, skunk or any other wild animal, the first thing to do is thoroughly wash the wound or area of exposure with soap and water. This is one of the most effective methods to decrease the chance of infection.
Some people -- animal control officers and trappers, mostly -- get a preventive rabies vaccination. This vaccination -- called pre-exposure prophylaxis -- involves three injections over 3 or 4 weeks. A booster shot every 2 years maintains the vaccination's effectiveness, but it does not prevent you from having to get more shots if you are actually bitten -- it's just reduces the number of shots required from five to three. A full panel of 5 shots costs between $1,500 and $2,000, with the shot being given over a one-month period.
Each year, an estimated 40,000 people in the United States receive treatment for suspected rabies exposure.