A raccoon picked up in the Hill Farm Road area of town last week tested positive for rabies, prompting local health officials to remind residents to be alert for wild animals that appear to be acting suspiciously, which could be an indication of the deadly virus.
The raccoon had contact with a household pet March 6, but the pet had an up-to-date rabies vaccination, officials said. The wild animals that most commonly carry rabies are raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes and coyotes, although cats, dogs and cattle are also susceptible to the virus.
A CodeRed alert was sent by officials to residents within a half-mile of the Hill Farm Road incident.
Handling a rabid animal or coming into contact with its blood, urine or feces does not result in transmission of the disease and would not require medical treatment. But urgent medical attention is needed if a person were bitten by a rabid animal since, left untreated, rabies leads to death.
Signs of possible rabies infection in both wild and domesticated animals include:
- Shyness of a normally friendly pet
- Fearlessness of humans in wild animals
- Uncharacteristic excitability, aggressiveness, or restlessness
- Sudden mood changes
- Excessive drooling
- Abnormal activity during the time of day an animal is usually inactive
- Eating substances the animal would not normally consume
If residents notice a stray animal in their neighborhood they are urged to contact animal control officials at 203-254-4857 or police at 203-254-4800, who will take the creature away.