ARLINGTON, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A raccoon that attacked a child in a back yard in Arlington earlier this week has tested positive for rabies.
Arlington Police were dispatched to a home on Fountain Road on Wednesday at around 4:15 p.m. for a report of a young child who had been bitten by an animal.
Upon arrival, officers said a child under the age of five was being placed into an ambulance and given medical care by members of the Arlington Fire Department with the child's mother.
Authorities said the child was in the backyard of the family's home and was attacked by a large raccoon. The child's mother stopped the attack and was able to chase the animal away and called 911.
The child suffered bites and scratches from the raccoon, was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, and is expected to be okay.
Officers searched the area and were unable to find the raccoon in their initial search, but by around 5:40 p.m., officers located a raccoon that was "acting lethargic that is believed to be the one that attacked the child in the area of nearby Buena Vista Road."
The Arlington Department of Health and Human Services said officers responded to the area, and the raccoon was humanely euthanized and brought to a state testing site to be tested for rabies.
On Friday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health notified the DHHS that the raccoon had tested positive for rabies.
"While we do not believe there is any current danger to the community, we wanted to notify residents about this incident so they can be vigilant about protecting their loved ones and pets," Arlington Police Chief Juliann Flaherty said. "Our thoughts go out to the family and the young child who had to suffer this horrific ordeal. If anyone notices any wild animals acting aggressively or strangely, they should call the Arlington Police Department at 781-643-1212 to report it immediately."
According to the DPH, rabies is a serious disease that affects the brain and spinal cord in mammals, including humans. To help prevent the spread of rabies, the DPH advises to teach children to never approach animals they don’t know – even if they appear friendly, report any animal that behaves oddly to your local animal control official, do not keep wild animals as pets, and make sure your pets are vaccinated against rabies.
(Photo: Getty Images)