CLINTON — Town officials are urging caution after five wild animals in Clinton tested positive for rabies during the past three months.

The animals — a skunk, fox and three raccoons — were found on Bush, Canaan and River roads, according to a news release from Town Manager Aaron Chrostowsky.

In Maine, there have been more than 50 confirmed rabies cases this year. During the past three years, there has been a yearly average of 65 confirmed cases. In 2006, 127 cases were reported, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rabies is a virus that affects the brain and spinal cord and can cause death if left untreated. Rabies is rare among humans in the United States but relatively common among wild animals throughout the country, according to the center.

Signs and symptoms of rabies include behavioral changes such as withdrawal or aggression, excessive drooling, foaming at the mouth, dilated pupils, vacant stare, muscle tremors, a throaty bark and varying degrees of paralysis, according to the release.

Town officials urged Clinton residents to contact the Clinton Police Department at its non-emergency number, 426-9192, if a suspicious animal is found.

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