2017-04-28 / Front Page

Dayton notifies residents about rabid raccoon

By LIZ GOTTHELF
Staff Writer

DAYTON —Dayton town officials are notifying residents of a recent confirmed case of a rabid raccoon.

“Let this serve as a reminder to always use caution around wild animals, and to be sure to have your pets up to date on their rabies vaccination,” stated a town email newsfeed on Wednesday.

If a raccon acting strangely is sighted, town officials urge residents to contact the Maine Warden Service at 287-8000.

According to the Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory, the racoon, which was confirmed rabid on April 19, is the only case reported in York County thus far in 2017.

Since the start of the year, there have been 10 confirmed cases in Maine of rabid animals — six racoon, three skunks and one red fox.

In 2016, there were 66 confirmed cases of rabies in the state. Six of those were in York County.

According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, rabies is a viral disease of the central nervous system that is almost always fatal. It is very rare in humans in the U.S., but is common in animals especially wildlife — in some parts of the country.

The rabies virus can infect any mammal, but is most common among certain animals such as bats, skunks, foxes and racoons, according to the Maine CDC. Rabies is very rare among rodents, and thanks to vaccines, extremely rare among pets and farm animals.

The rabies virus lives in saliva, brain and spinal cord tissue of animals and is spread when they bite or scratch. It can also be spread if saliva or nerve tissue touches a mucous membrane such as those found in the mouth nose or eyes, or touches broken skin, according to the Maine CDC.

Behavior of rabid animals vary. Some appear shy and fearful while other become aggressive. Some stumble as though drunk or appear lame.

The Maine CDC advises people to avoid contact with wild animals. It further advises people to avoid any animal —wild, domestic or farm — that is behaving oddly, and report such animals to their community animal control officer. 

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or egotthelf@journaltribune.com. 

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