Test results on a raccoon killed in the backyard of a house on Barrows Drive Monday afternoon came back positive for rabies Tuesday, according to Animal Control Officer Renee Young.
A resident of Barrows Drive, which runs between Howland Road and Blueberry Drive, called police late afternoon on Monday after seeing a raccoon in her backyard acting peculiarly. At the house, the police officer saw the raccoon acting aggressively so he shot it and it was taken to the state lab for testing.
Young did not know the last time a rabid animal had been found in East Greenwich. However, she said, “if we have one positive, there’s a good possibility there’s more.”
The homeowner, who was not identified, does not have pets, Young said. If she had, those animals would have been given rabies vaccination booster shots. As for other pets in the neighborhood, Young said the best thing any pet owner can do is to make sure their pets are up to date on their rabies vaccine.
By state law, all dogs, cats, and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies, which can be transmitted to humans through a bite, a scratch, even saliva. Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that can infect all warm-blooded animals including humans.
“This is a preventable disease,” said Young. She cautioned against trying to befriend wild animals by feeding them.
She said that when a rabid animal dies, the rabies virus dies with it, so “it’s very unlikely that you can catch rabies from a dead animal.”
Young said she picks up dead animals “all the time.” What’s her technique? “I just put on a pair of gloves and use a garbage bag.”