Rabid raccoon found in JP

September 24, 2010
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The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is reminding Jamaica Plain residents to steer clear of stray and wild animals, after at least one person was exposed to a rabid raccoon. That person is now receiving post-exposure prevention treatment, Dr. Anita Barry, director of the Infectious Disease Bureau, said in press release issued this week.

City public health officials said they were notified late on Sept. 20 by the Massachusetts State Laboratory Institute that the raccoon picked up in JP on Sept. 19 was rabid. They immediately began an investigation to determine if anyone had been exposed to the rabid animal. Health officials said they also plan to distribute flyers in JP to alert residents to the rabies case and instruct them on what to do if they think they have been exposed.

Rabies, a rare illness caused by a virus, spreads to animals or people through saliva of infected animals. This usually occurs after a bite or scratch from an animal with the disease. Any mammal can get rabies, but it is more commonly found in raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, and cats, according to the BPHC.

Rabies is very serious illness affecting a person’s central nervous system. To prevent rabies, the health commission statement said, it is important to avoid being bitten or scratched by a potentially infected animal. Residents were also warned to avoid any animal that is acting strange or sick. Officials also advised to be sure pets are up to date with their rabies vaccinations and kept under supervision.

BPHC advised that a person bitten by an unknown animal that potentially has rabies should wash the wound well with soap and water and contact their healthcare provider or go to their nearest emergency room to seek medical care. For more information about rabies, contact the BPHC, Infectious Disease Bureau at 534-5611.

From Boston Public Health Commission materials.