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View Full Version : Why don't raccoons sneeze their masks off in September?



Tom Mazanec
2015-Mar-10, 01:47 AM
Until I had a series of shots, I had terrible hay fever from mid-late August till October. I mean like ten stentorian sternutations in ten seconds - till my head (felt like) it exploded.
But animals don't get shots, so why don't they get hay fever (or do they)?

BigDon
2015-Mar-10, 02:38 AM
They do.

You have a reporting bias. :)

Swift
2015-Mar-10, 02:57 AM
I don't know about hay fever, but I've had pets that sneezed, though I don't know if it was hay fever or an inhaled irritant or a respiratory infection.

Drummer62
2015-Mar-10, 04:31 AM
Until I had a series of shots, I had terrible hay fever from mid-late August till October. I mean like ten stentorian sternutations in ten seconds - till my head (felt like) it exploded.
But animals don't get shots, so why don't they get hay fever (or do they)?

I don't think many animals get hay fever, if any.
I'd think a big factor is diet.
They just don't eat all the crap that we do, like highly processed or otherwise de-naturalized food.

Noclevername
2015-Mar-10, 05:49 AM
I doubt diet has much to do with it, people have had hay fever and allergies for as long as there have been people.

The difference between us and raccoons is that we help incapacitated members of our species survive and breed. Raccoons with obvious medical problems just aren't picked as suitable mates.

Inclusa
2015-Mar-10, 06:10 AM
I doubt diet has much to do with it, people have had hay fever and allergies for as long as there have been people.

The difference between us and raccoons is that we help incapacitated members of our species survive and breed. Raccoons with obvious medical problems just aren't picked as suitable mates.

Otherwise we will be considered uncivilized or brutal to the very least, but it is highly possible that other species do that as well.

Noclevername
2015-Mar-10, 06:29 AM
Otherwise we will be considered uncivilized or brutal to the very least, but it is highly possible that other species do that as well.

Some might, but not raccoons IIRC. The "weaker" males do get to mate, but I don't think sick ones do.

Drummer62
2015-Mar-10, 07:34 AM
I doubt diet has much to do with it, people have had hay fever and allergies for as long as there have been people.

No, that is not the case.
See here for example: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3293845

They call it a "post industrial revolution epidemic".
Which supports my theory that diet is at least a factor, probably a major one. Highly processed food is a post industrial revolution occurrence.
My own experience supports it as well.
I used to have hay fever. After I changed my diet some time ago, I am hardly bothered by it any more.

Noclevername
2015-Mar-10, 07:42 AM
Raccoons often eat our garbage, so whatever food-related conditions affect us should affect them as well.

Drummer62
2015-Mar-10, 08:38 AM
Raccoons often eat our garbage, so whatever food-related conditions affect us should affect them as well.

They may sometimes eat our garbage but for the most part that is not their main diet.
According to wikipedia "its diet consists of about 40% invertebrates, 33% plant material and 27% vertebrates."

They may supplement with our garbage but their main diet does not contain any highly processed food.

Also, I'd imagine that most people's food garbage is peels and expired fruit and vegetables or meat.
We don't tend to throw away large quantities of highly processed food like crackers, chips or chocolate products.

grant hutchison
2015-Mar-10, 12:40 PM
Yes, it's a post-industrial disease, but the epidemiology links it to childhood viral infections - the fewer of those you get, the more likely you are to develop hay fever. So there's a link to the "hygiene hypothesis" of allergies generally.
So it may be a result of the smaller, richer families, vaccination and better public health that came after the industrial revolution. Second-hand cigarette smoke is also epidemiologically related.
Racoons, being singularly lacking in public health measures and second-hand smoke, may well have the same low incidence of pollen allergies as preindustrial humans.

Diet is interesting, because it does seem to modulate the immune response (without abolishing the allergy). But the dietary modification needs to be quite precise - just any old "healthy diet" won't do. A variety of fruits are high in histamine, for instance, and can make your symptoms worse.

But symptoms get better with age, particularly in males. So you often meet people who ascribe the moderation of their symptoms to some landmark event in their lives - new job, new car, some major dietary change.

Grant Hutchison

Drummer62
2015-Mar-10, 01:16 PM
But symptoms get better with age, particularly in males. So you often meet people who ascribe the moderation of their symptoms to some landmark event in their lives - new job, new car, some major dietary change.

Interesting. I am in my 50s and male, so that would fit.
However, I have not been able to find support for that assertion. I only found statements that boys who develop hay fever before adulthood tend to outgrow it after they reach adulthood.
But so far nothing that states that the symptoms diminish in older males.

Do you have some citations by any chance?

grapes
2015-Mar-10, 01:29 PM
Do you have some citations by any chance?
"Does grant hutchison have some citations?" Is a bare Catholic?

On the other hand, the rise of "super-antigens" seems to have adjusted the playing field, if you can believe CNN: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2008/05/09/allergies-and-age/comment-page-1/

Trebuchet
2015-Mar-10, 02:54 PM
Is a bare Catholic?

I sincerely hope you meant "bear". Dang homophones!

malaidas
2015-Mar-10, 02:59 PM
Grant is a doctor from what I know, so in am sure he can.

malaidas
2015-Mar-10, 03:02 PM
I sincerely hope you meant "bear". Dang homophones!

Lol, are they for listening to mono music;)

BigDon
2015-Mar-10, 03:20 PM
Welcome to the boards Drummer. Please enjoy your stay.

Drummer, I have nothing better to do all day than to stand around and look at things. There are huge populations of urban raccoons who do so eat human garbage all the time. We have all kinds of raccoons living in my neighborhood. Some of them even have names!

There's Cujo, Sasquatch and Quasimodo. Sasquatch is easy to identify due to his large size and missing tail. He lives in the storm drain at the intersection of Orange and Grand avenues to the west of me. Cujo is just as big but has his tail and a family a mate and three half grown kits at the moment and then there is poor Quasimodo. Quasimodo seems to have been run over by a car and his back was broken somewhere just south of the shoulder blades and the upper section depressed inward, plus his right forearm was badly broken. Despite all that Animal Control was unable to catch him after three weeks of trying. Now I don't want to use words like half-arsed when it came to capturing him but it does come to mind. I saw him every night they couldn't catch him.

(They couldn't catch a raccoon with a broken back and a shattered forelimb! Who wasn't even trying to avoid them! So what are they good for besides picking up roadkill that doesn't fall under the highway dept.'s jurisdiction?)

Yeah, after his bones melded as best they could and I saw he was going to live I gave Quasi some chicken wings and a couple of other things. And maybe a bowl or two of dried cat food. I did learn that raccoons don't like ginger.

Oh yeah, with spring here the raccoons are in the process of procreating. Did you know that mating raccoons sound an awful lot like somebody tearing sheet aluminum like paper? That's how you can tell it's raccoons, the sheet metal sound. Two days ago at 3 AM two of them went at it in the parking garage of the apartment I live in. Kind of echoes.

Weird little fact. Since raccoon are plantigrade walkers when they run you can hear both the heel strike, then the ball of the foot come down. So when they run sounds like an eight legged dog is running past.

Drummer, do you have a lot of raccoons where you live? Your location says Australia but who knows what's been introduced where now a days.

Noclevername
2015-Mar-10, 03:21 PM
I sincerely hope you meant "bear". Dang homophones!

Everyone is bare at some point in their lives, no matter what their religion. So, it fits. :)

BigDon
2015-Mar-10, 04:02 PM
Everyone is bare at some point in their lives, no matter what their religion. So, it fits. :)

Don't know a lot of Sikhs, do you?

Noclevername
2015-Mar-10, 04:13 PM
Don't know a lot of Sikhs, do you?

Are Sikhs born clothed?

malaidas
2015-Mar-10, 04:19 PM
Are Sikhs born clothed?

nice

grant hutchison
2015-Mar-10, 04:34 PM
Interesting. I am in my 50s and male, so that would fit.
However, I have not been able to find support for that assertion. I only found statements that boys who develop hay fever before adulthood tend to outgrow it after they reach adulthood.
But so far nothing that states that the symptoms diminish in older males.

Do you have some citations by any chance?Just one of those things you learn in medical school. Never thought about citations before.
But here (http://www.uptodate.com/contents/allergic-rhinitis-seasonal-allergies-beyond-the-basics) is a review, written by MDs, describing the adult peak in one's 30s and 40s.
Allergic rhinitis can begin at any age, although most people first develop symptoms in childhood or young adulthood. The symptoms are often at their worst in children and in people in their 30s and 40s. However, the severity of symptoms tends to vary throughout life; many people experience periods when they have no symptoms at all.

Grant Hutchison

Jeff Root
2015-Mar-10, 06:26 PM
Raccoons are scavengers, right? The lunchbox is just outside
the front door!

http://freemars.org/jeff2/home.png

Big, no tail? Is that Sasquatch???

http://freemars.org/jeff2/raccoon.png

Definitely scavengers!

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

starcanuck64
2015-Mar-10, 06:49 PM
I doubt diet has much to do with it, people have had hay fever and allergies for as long as there have been people.

The difference between us and raccoons is that we help incapacitated members of our species survive and breed. Raccoons with obvious medical problems just aren't picked as suitable mates.

Or they get eaten.

(In the voice of David Attenborough)

"Here we see the tawny male cougar silently stalking through the brush looking for a delectable meal. The wily male racoon however is perfectly safe, he knows how to stay hidden and quiet until the danger has passed. *AAACHOOOO*. Oh my, well that's unfortunate.

grant hutchison
2015-Mar-10, 08:13 PM
Interesting. I am in my 50s and male, so that would fit.
However, I have not been able to find support for that assertion. I only found statements that boys who develop hay fever before adulthood tend to outgrow it after they reach adulthood.
But so far nothing that states that the symptoms diminish in older males.

Do you have some citations by any chance?OK, Here (http://www.formularywkccgmtw.co.uk/default.asp?cid=326&f1=127]Here) is what you need. Scroll down to the graph (Figure 1) of prevalence of allergic rhinitis [that is, the proportion of the population who have the disease], sorted by age and gender. The original citation is given if you want to dig it out of the library, but my link is the first place I could find where the data weren't behind a paywall. You can see the decline of prevalence with age, and also the tendency of males to peak higher but then fall lower than females, in both the 2001 and 2005 data.

Grant Hutchison

grant hutchison
2015-Mar-10, 10:17 PM
OK, Here (http://www.formularywkccgmtw.co.uk/default.asp?cid=326&f1=127]Here) is what you need. Scroll down to the graph (Figure 1) of prevalence of allergic rhinitis [that is, the proportion of the population who have the disease], sorted by age and gender. The original citation is given if you want to dig it out of the library, but my link is the first place I could find where the data weren't behind a paywall. You can see the decline of prevalence with age, and also the tendency of males to peak higher but then fall lower than females, in both the 2001 and 2005 data.OK, as you were. The graph is mislabelled in my link, and is in fact lifetime prevalence in the original paper. So it actually reflects the increasing incidence of allergic rhinitis during the lifetime of the subjects charted.

Grant Hutchison

Drummer62
2015-Mar-10, 10:22 PM
Drummer, do you have a lot of raccoons where you live? Your location says Australia but who knows what's been introduced where now a days.

Hi BigDon,

yes, I am quite familiar with raccoons. They are very common around Melbourne.
I hear and see them regularly at night.

I am not sure if they were natives originally.

There is no doubt they do eat garbage if they can get at it.
That fact was not in question.

I only questioned the amount of junk food or highly processed food in the food part of our garbage.
I maintain that people (in general) tend to throw away much less highly processed food (like crackers, chips, chocolate, etc) than things like peels and expired produce (incl. meat).
In other words raccoons are much less exposed to junk food than humans (in general).

Drummer62
2015-Mar-10, 10:48 PM
OK, as you were. The graph is mislabelled in my link, and is in fact lifetime prevalence in the original paper. So it actually reflects the increasing incidence of allergic rhinitis during the lifetime of the subjects charted.

Grant Hutchison

Thank you, Grant Hutchison, for taking the time to look up the link.

I don't think the graph is mislabelled.
I found another link to the paper here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18779249 which shows the same graph with the same labelling.

Further digging yielded a link to the actual paper that is not behind a paywall with the same graph and same labelling: http://jrs.sagepub.com/content/101/9/466.full.pdf+html

Please understand, I am not playing a "gotcha game" with you.
I am interested to find out whether my personal decline in hay fever is due to my ageing or due to my diet change and so far it remains inconclusive.

Drummer62
2015-Mar-10, 10:52 PM
Or they get eaten.

(In the voice of David Attenborough)

"Here we see the tawny male cougar silently stalking through the brush looking for a delectable meal. The wily male racoon however is perfectly safe, he knows how to stay hidden and quiet until the danger has passed. *AAACHOOOO*. Oh my, well that's unfortunate.

Absolutely hilarious!
I can clearly picture him with his characteristic twitches and voice saying just that!

grant hutchison
2015-Mar-10, 10:53 PM
OK, as you were. The graph is mislabelled in my link, and is in fact lifetime prevalence in the original paper. So it actually reflects the increasing incidence of allergic rhinitis during the lifetime of the subjects charted.Prevalence data by age isn't going to be fully convincing, of course, because of the increasing incidence of seasonal allergic rhinitis year on year - so the fact that the prevalence is lower in older people might be because they were less likely to develop it in childhood because they were born earlier.
What is required is some sort of longitudinal study, following people with allergic rhinitis and checking what happens to their symptoms. British Medical Journal: Best Practice reports one such study here (http://bestpractice.bmj.com/best-practice/monograph/232/follow-up/prognosis.html), following university students for 23 years, from late teens to around age 40:
While allergic rhinitis (AR) can present in infancy, its prevalence increases in young childhood and peaks in childhood and adolescence until decreasing with advancing age. In one longitudinal study, 738 former university students who were evaluated and underwent skin testing during their first year at university completed a 23-year follow-up questionnaire inquiring into their history of allergies and asthma. The mean age of this group at the time of the follow-up study was 40 years. During the 23 years subsequent to the original study, 131 developed new allergy symptoms in addition to the 175 individuals already diagnosed when they were first-year university students, totalling 306. At the time of the 23-year follow-up, improvement was noted by 54.9% (168/306) of those affected, with a trend of increasing percentage of improvement with younger age of onset of allergy symptoms. Among those who improved, 41.6% (70/168) described themselves as symptom-free, while the remaining 58.3% (98/168) were better, if not symptom-free.
This suggests that in the long term, AR symptoms improve in at least one half of affected individuals.So we have just under a quarter of those suffering in their late teens who are symptom-free 23 years later.

Grant Hutchison

grant hutchison
2015-Mar-10, 11:08 PM
Further digging yielded a link to the actual paper that is not behind a paywall with the same graph and same labelling: http://jrs.sagepub.com/content/101/9/466.full.pdf+htmlIf you take a look at the text describing the derivation of the data, and at the label on the figure (rather than on the axis label), you'll see that it is lifetime prevalence. When the graph is lifted out of context with the y-axis labelled simply "prevalence", it's misleading.

No matter. As I said above, prevalence data is always going to mix in the varying incidence according to year of birth. The longitudinal study I found gives you much better supporting data for the age-related change, though not for the gender difference I mentioned. I notice my embedded link seems to hit a paywall, despite the fact I can get access directly from Google Scholar. (I probably have my Athens or UK Access Management login turned on automatically on this machine.) I'll see if I can pry out the paper the BMJ cites.

Edit: Natural history of hay fever: a 23-year follow-up of college students (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9801740) is the original article. The abstract confirms my quote from BMJ Best Practice.
This study suggests that over a long period of time, hay fever symptoms will improve in the majority of individuals.

Grant Hutchison

Jeff Root
2015-Mar-11, 06:24 AM
I'm 62 years old and have consumed peanut butter fairly
consistently for almost all of that time. About fifteen years
ago, for the first time, I began usually having a cough reflex
immediately after opening a jar of peanut butter. It goes
away in a few seconds, and never interferes with my ability
to eat it. I speculate that some kind of vapor builds up in
the closed jar. I wonder if it was a substance not previously
in the peanut butter, or if it was there all along but I didn't
become sensitive to it until I was in my 40's.

This happens each time I open the jar (typically every 1-3 days),
not just when it is opened the first time. I also wonder if it is
more likely to be the peanuts or mold growing on them.

Also, during the last five years or so I've noticed for the first
time in my life that I'll sneeze or have a runny nose or have
trouble breathing because of constricted nasal passages for a
few hours or a couple of days for no apparent reason and with
no other symptoms, and then I'll hear that the pollen count
(for some particular plant) has been high.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

.

Hornblower
2015-Mar-11, 02:41 PM
I started having severe hay fever after a bout with the Hong Kong flu at age 20. I was bothered by various spring pollens in April and May and by ragweed starting in late August. Apparently there was little or no ragweed at Fort Campbell, KY, about 50 miles northwest of Nashville, because I had no symptoms during Army boot camp there two years later. Back in northern Virginia the following fall it was worse than ever. I started antigen shots and kept at it for 7 years and got some relief. After that the allergist suggesting stopping the shots to see what would happen. The symptoms stayed down and gradually went away except for occasional flareups when the spring pollen was extremely heavy.

Hypmotoad
2015-Mar-11, 03:48 PM
I wonder if it was a substance not previously
in the peanut butter, or if it was there all along but I didn't
become sensitive to it until I was in my 40's.

The scary part about this for me is how common it must be for staple foods to be tweaked for some unknown reason without my knowing the risks.

Jeff Root
2015-Mar-11, 04:40 PM
The scary part about this for me is how common it must be
for staple foods to be tweaked for some unknown reason
without my knowing the risks.
I don't see what difference it would make whether a food is
changed to whatever or is that way from the start. Either
way, if you have a bad reaction to it, you won't know until
you try it. The outcome is the same either way.

In this case, I have a vague understanding that peanuts
are a very common allergy-causer, and whatever the actual
allergen is is either a natural product of the peanut or of
a mold growing on the peanut, not anything intentionally
added to it.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

BigDon
2015-Mar-12, 01:33 AM
Drummer, they are definitely introductions.

What's odd is I'm sure they have "Australian accents" relative to my raccoons.

StarC, the realty is closer to;

"We see the very wily german shepherd sneaking up on the injured raccoon, who can no longer scale an eight foot high plank fence like he had wings, at approximately 35 mph."

Hypmotoad
2015-Mar-12, 01:40 AM
BigDon, this has been bugging me so I have to ask, is your avatar a picture of Micky Roark from Sin City?

BigDon
2015-Mar-12, 03:50 PM
Yes it is! The haircut, build, and injuries to the same side of the face were too good to resist.

Oh, by the way, that's a damn fine jacket you're wearing...

Hypmotoad
2015-Mar-12, 04:02 PM
O.O ....here, take it...

swampyankee
2015-Mar-12, 07:08 PM
Until I had a series of shots, I had terrible hay fever from mid-late August till October. I mean like ten stentorian sternutations in ten seconds - till my head (felt like) it exploded.
But animals don't get shots, so why don't they get hay fever (or do they)?

Not even all people who live in highly industrialized societies get hay fever, or even allergies. I don't get hay fever -- I don't have seasonal allergies -- although I am allergic to house dust.

I suspect that a lot of "this never happened before ...." statements are not well supported by evidence. An illiterate peasant wouldn't be writing about his miserable hay fever, regardless of how bad it was. A wealthy noble may have complained about it, but would simply deal with it. They certainly would deal with much worse -- tooth decay, chronic infections, osteoarthritis, etc.

grant hutchison
2015-Mar-12, 07:24 PM
I suspect that a lot of "this never happened before ...." statements are not well supported by evidence. An illiterate peasant wouldn't be writing about his miserable hay fever, regardless of how bad it was. A wealthy noble may have complained about it, but would simply deal with it. They certainly would deal with much worse -- tooth decay, chronic infections, osteoarthritis, etc.But the doctors wrote about everything, and we have more than two thousand years of medical writings by people who were far more observant of symptoms and signs than most doctors are today. The phenomenon of seasonal sneezing stands out by its almost complete absence from historical medical writings.
From Hay fever, a post industrial revolution epidemic: a history of its growth during the 19th century (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3293845):

Although other forms of allergic disease were described in antiquity, hay fever is surprisingly modern. Very rare descriptions can be traced back to Islamic texts of the 9th century and European texts of the 16th century. It was only in the early 19th century that the disease was carefully described and at that time was regarded as most unusual. By the end of the 19th century it had become commonplace in both Europe and North America. This paper attempts to chart the growth of hay fever through the medical literature of the 19th century. It is hoped that an understanding of the increase in prevalence between 1820 and 1900 may provide an insight for modern researchers and give some clues into possible reasons for the epidemic nature of the disease today.

Grant Hutchison

Delvo
2015-Mar-15, 03:34 AM
Most other critters have more sinus space than we have, so the level of mucus overproduction that would be needed to stuff them up is probably more drastic for them than for us.