Do Coyotes Carry Rabies? What You Need to Know

Do Coyotes Carry Rabies? What You Need to Know

Coyotes are wild carnivorous animals that are known to roam around several parts of the world including North America, Mexico and Central America. These creatures are well known for their scavenging and hunting abilities, and for their shrill howls often heard at night. Though, it is important to note the potential threat they pose to people and pets, one of which includes being a carrier of rabies. In this article, we will explore the basics of rabies, the likelihood of rabies in coyotes, and measures you can take to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your pets.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals, including humans. Once a person or animal is infected with rabies, the virus spreads through the nervous system to the brain. If untreated, rabies can lead to death. People usually get infected with rabies after being bitten by an animal that is carrying the virus. Rabies is a severe problem around the globe, with 95% of all cases reported in the countries of Africa and Asia.

Do Coyotes Carry Rabies?

Yes, Coyotes are one of the primary carriers of rabies in North America.

The reasons for this are several. First, coyotes are known to be carriers and transmitters of diseases, not just rabies. Second, coyotes are opportunistic and omnivorous creatures, known to feed on dead animals and garbage on occasion, increasing their chances of consuming the virus. Third, they frequently contact with other infected animals such as skunks, raccoons, foxes, and bats.

It is important to note though that not all coyotes carry rabies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than 10% of coyotes tested positive for rabies. Nevertheless, given that coyotes are the primary carriers of rabies in North America, it is necessary to take caution when you come into contact with the creatures.

Symptoms of Rabies in Coyotes

It is difficult to spot a coyote with rabies easily. Nevertheless, coyotes that are infected may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • foaming at the mouth
  • wandering around in circles
  • increased aggressiveness
  • unprovoked aggression
  • paralysis of the limbs

If you see a coyote exhibiting any of these symptoms, you should stay far away from the animal and contact the Humane Society or the wildlife control authorities in your area immediately.

What Should You Do if You Come into Contact with a Coyote?

If you come into contact with a coyote, you should take the following precautions:

  • Do not approach the coyote
  • Stay quiet and calm
  • Try to appear intimidating to the coyote by raising your arms or making loud noises
  • Back away slowly and find a safe spot to watch the coyote from afar
  • Report the coyote to wildlife authorities or animal control

How to Protect Yourself, Your Pets and Livestock from Coyote-Transmitted Rabies

Here are some tips to reduce the chances of coming into contact with a coyote carrying rabies:

  • Keep your pets and livestock vaccinated against rabies. If you have an outdoor cat or dog, it is essential to get them vaccinated against rabies regularly
  • Ensure all garbage bins are covered securely and not easily accessible
  • Place bird feeders at a high level where coyotes won’t reach
  • If you observe any sick or rabid animals, including those which may be aggressive, maintain your distance and contact the local wildlife authorities or animal control. Do not attempt to capture, treat or move them yourself
  • Avoid feeding the coyotes
  • Clear any brush or debris commonly found in your backyard such as wood piles, old furniture or anything that can offer cover or shelter to a coyote to lurk around
  • Keep the natural food sources of coyotes from around your house or outdoor areas. Do not provide ground feeding opportunities for songbirds or squirrels


Coyotes can carry rabies, but you still have protection options as outlined above. If you encounter any suspicious behavior of a coyote in your neighborhood, please call licensed wildlife authorities before attempting to catch or relocate the animal. As long as caution is taken, there is no need to fear these elegant and intelligent creatures, but do remember how important vaccination against rabies is for you, your family, and pets.

  • Do you have to be bitten to get rabies?
  • No, Rabies can also exhibit a condition called airborne rabies, which happens when an infected animal has an antemortem rabies virus within its lungs and can spread it to another animal or human through the air via saliva, cough or sneeze.

  • Can I get rabies from a coyote if I touch it?
  • Yes. Rabies can be spread through a bite or scratch, as well as through saliva and other fluids. If you come into contact with a coyote, especially one exhibiting signs of rabies, avoid any physical contact and seek medical attention immediately if you were exposed somehow.

  • Can coyotes transmit rabies to other animals?
  • Yes. Coyotes can transmit rabies to other animals, such as pet cats, dogs, cattle, and horses, if they are bitten, scratched, or in contact with the saliva of the infected coyote. Ensuring that pets and other animals are vaccinated for rabies reduces the risk of transmission significantly.



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