Coyotes are the most common and most serious predator of livestock in the United States. They prey on big game, livestock, rodents, wild birds, and poultry. This breed of canine, has no natural predator other than themselves. Coyotes normally kill livestock with a bite in the throat, but they infrequently pull the animal down by attacking the side, hindquarters, and udder. The rumen and intestines may be removed and dragged away from the carcass. On small lambs, the upper canine teeth may penetrate the top of the neck or the skull. Calf predation by coyotes is most common when calves are young. Calves that are attacked, but not killed, exhibit wounds in the flank, hindquarters, or front shoulders; often their tails are chewed off near the top. Deer carcasses are frequently completely dismembered and eaten. Drip irrigation system users report that coyotes chew holes in plastic pipe and disrupt irrigation. Coyotes damage watermelons by biting holes through the melons and eating the centers out; raccoons, on the other hand, make small holes in the melons and scoop the pulp out with their front paws. Coyotes will also damage other fruit crops.
Coyotes are susceptible to many of the same ailments as domestic dogs, and therefore can be carriers of the same diseases. Click here for a listing of canine infections.
Distemper – is one of the more common and serious diseases. Distemper is a contagious, incurable, often fatal, multisystemic viral disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. It is possible for humans to contract an asymptomatic (subclinical) CDV infection. Anyone who’s been immunized against measles (a related virus) is protected against CDV as well.
Mange – Another common coyote disease, Mange is caused by a small mite which burrows into the skin, causing an irritation. This disease is extremely contagious, affecting as much as 70% of the coyote population. Mange mites can infect humans, but the symptoms are usually mild, consisting of a rash near the infected area.
Heartworm – infection is a fairly common disease caused by parasitic worms living in the arteries of the lungs and heart of coyotes. In rare instances humans have also contracted this serious and potentially fatal disease.
Rabies - is an acute, fatal encephalomyelitis caused by neurotropic viruses. It is almost always transmitted by an animal bite that innoculates the virus into wounds. Any coyote bite or scratch should receive prompt local treatment by thorough cleansing of the wound with copious amounts of soap and water; this local treatment will significantly reduce the risk of rabies. Anyone who may have been exposed to rabies should be advised to always contact local health authorities immediately for advice about postexposure prophylaxis and should also contact their personal physician as soon as possible.
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