Zombie raccoons aren’t rare. You may see a raccoon that is staggering, grunting, standing on its hind legs, and periodically collapsing into an unresponsive coma. It may even have glowing green eyes that appear blind.
It looks terrifying, but there’s no need to hoard canned food and ammo. This “zombie syndrome” is caused by canine distemper virus, which spread to wild raccoon populations from domestic dogs. Canine distemper is not the same thing as rabies and is not contagious to humans.
That said, if you do see a zombie raccoon, it’s important not to touch or handle it, and to keep pets and children inside. Although distemper is not the same thing as rabies, there is no way to completely rule out rabies without having the animal’s brain tissue tested. Unvaccinated dogs are also at a very high risk of catching the disease from wildlife.
A raccoon with distemper, unfortunately, needs to be put to sleep. You can generally arrange to have a zombie raccoon put to sleep by contacting your local animal control. In some cases, a wildlife rehabilitation volunteer can also arrange to capture the animal to take it for euthanasia and testing.