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Rabid Raccoon Reported in West Roxbury Over Weekend

Anyone who comes in direct contact with the animal is asked to seek treatment for possible exposure.

Credit: Boston Public Health Commission.
Credit: Boston Public Health Commission.

A raccoon tested positive for rabies after biting a person in West Roxbury last weekend, officials with the Boston Public Health Commission said Thursday. 

The animal tested positive for rabies after it reportedly bit a person in the area of Weld Street in West Roxbury on Saturday, May 24. Anyone in the area who may have been in direct contact with the raccoon is asked to call 617-534-5611. 

"Preventative treatments are needed for anyone who suspects they've been in direct contact with this animal who later died on May 24," Dr. Anita Barry, Director of the Infectious Disease Bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission. "Persons who did not touch the raccoon are not at any risk."

Rabies can be spread through the saliva of a rabid animal, though the virus can also get into the body through open cuts or wounds or through the eyes, nose or mouth. Once the virus is contracted, it spreads through the body and can be fatal, but prompt preventative treatment is effective in preventing rabies in people who have been exposed, officials said. 

Health officials from the Boston Public Health Commission's Infectious Disease Bureau on Thursday set out to put up flyers in the neighborhood. 

While the disease is most commonly found in bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes, domestic animals like dogs, cats and ferrets can also contract the virus. 

Pet owners who suspect their animals may have been in contact with the raccoon and have unexplained wounds, scratches or bite marks should contact a veterinarian and ensure their pets are up-to-date for rabies vaccinations. 

Boston Animal Control offers a series of low-cost rabies clinics for dogs and cats, with the next clinic taking place this Saturday, May 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Jackson/Mann Community Center in Allston/Brighton. 

The commission also issued the following tips on how to remain safe:

  • Do not feed or touch animals you don't know, including all wild animals. 
  • Do not keep wild animals as pets, it is illegal and dangerous. 
  • Do not touch or pick up dead animals. 
  • Teach children never to approach strange animals, even baby animals can be dangerous. 
  • Cover and secure garbage cans and never leave pet food outside. 
  • Ensure all openings in your home are closed and secure to prevent wildlife from moving in. 
  • Make sure your pet is up-to-date on rabies vaccination. 
  • Do not let your pets roam freely outdoors. Keep your dog on a leash at all times. 
For additional information on rabies prevention, visit www.bphc.org/rabies.

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