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Greenwich 4-Year-Old Bitten by a Raccoon

GREENWICH, Conn. – A 4-year-old Greenwich boy was bitten by a raccoon while his mother was out getting the mail, police said.

As the child’s mother walked to the bottom of the driveway to collect her mail, she heard her son screaming. “A raccoon was biting his hand,” said Lt. Kraig Gray, spokesman for the department. “The child had gloves on at the time, and the raccoon pulled the glove off with its mouth.”

The mother screamed, scared the raccoon away and took her son to the hospital immediately, said Gray. The child had a minor scratch on his hand, and the doctor told police the child would be receiving antibiotics and a rabies shot. Police said the raccoon was not found.

Animals investigated for rabies are typically sent to the Connecticut Department of Health’s lab in Hartford for testing. “There are always some concerns with raccoons, foxes and coyotes for rabies,” said Gray. “Wildlife is just that – wild. You should always be cautious with all strange animals, domestic or otherwise.”

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. The virus is present in the saliva and nervous system tissue of a rabid animal, according to the Police Department Animal Control Division's “Rabies Factsheet.”

Here are some tips from the Animal Control Division on how people can protect themselves against rabies:

• Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals, stray dogs or cats. Enjoy wild animals from a distance.

• Be sure your dogs and cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. Vaccinated pets serve as a buffer between rabid wildlife and man. Protect them, and you may reduce your risk of exposure to rabies. Vaccines for dogs and cats after three months of age are effective for a one-year period. Revaccinations can be effective for up to three years. Check with your veterinarian. Pets too young to be vaccinated should be kept indoors.

• Keep family pets indoors at night. Don’t leave them outside unattended or allow them to roam free.

• Don’t attract wild animals to your home or yard. Keep your property free of stored birdseed or other foods which may attract wild animals. Feed pets indoors. Tightly cap and secure garbage cans. Board up any openings to your attic, basement, porch or garage to eliminate entry. Cap your chimney with screens.

• Encourage children to immediately tell an adult if they are bitten by an animal and tell children not to touch any animal they do not know.

• Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to the Greenwich Department of Health and Greenwich Animal Control Division. If the animal is available for testing, the Department will send it to the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health Laboratory. Note: Though there is no fee for human exposure rabies testing, there is a fee for non-human exposure rabies testing (testing a raccoon that was in a fight with your pet).

• If a wild animal is on your property, let it wander away. Bring children and pets indoors and alert neighbors who are outside. You may contact a Nuisance Wildlife Control Officer, who will remove the animal for a fee. If it appears to be ill, contact the Greenwich Animal Control Division.

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