Rabies is a disease that affects humans and domesticated dogs and cats. The disease is spread through saliva contracted from the bites inflicted by numerous types of wildlife including raccoons, opossums, foxes, and bats. According to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 59,000 people die from rabies each year worldwide. At this amount, rabies deaths occur every nine minutes. Although the disease is rare, experts claim that 3 billion people in the world are at risk of contracting rabies. However, most deaths that result from rabies occur on the continents of Asia and Africa, the disease rarely occurs in North America. Despite this, there is a good chance that an elderly American woman contracted rabies recently after a raccoon that may have been infected with the disease attacked and bit her while she was on the porch of her Belmar, New Jersey home.
According to the Monmouth County chief of law enforcement, Ross Licitra, the 83 year old woman sustained deep lacerations to the thumb area of one of her hands in response to the raccoon attack. Later that same day, a raccoon was captured near the attack victim’s home after it attacked and bit a dog. It is not known for sure whether the particular raccoon that had been captured was the same raccoon that attacked the woman, but authorities are nearly certain that they captured the very same animal. An animal control unit brought the raccoon in for laboratory testing in order to determine if it is carrying rabies or another disease that affects humans and/or dogs.
While it impossible that the raccoon culprit in this case is infected with rabies, many residents and authorities believe that it may be infected with a similar disease known as “canine distemper”. This belief is being supported by a recent outbreak of distemper-infected raccoons that occurred in nearby New York City. This outbreak saw more than 176 raccoons infected with distemper captured in Central Park alone.
Have you ever been under the impression that a raccoon was going to attack you?